“Small Talk”

*** This post found it’s origin in February, 2016. Today, I am dusting it off and loving the challenge it gives me today as much as it did two, um, three years ago. ***

In Sunday School yesterday, we were talking about some of the Jewish feasts and festivals. We looked at the calendar of remembrances and were thinking about how as an agrarian society these observances would be experienced. We talked about living life along a lunar calendar. We considered how our prayers would be for the favor of weather, growing, and harvesting conditions.

In a moment of daydreaming, I was in any number of conversations I have had through life when I would criticize (to myself) how ‘all she seems to talk about is the weather’. Entirely arrogant and lacking grace in my observation, I would judge weather conversations as ‘small talk’ and puff myself up with a snobbish pride about being the deeper, more real kind of person.

But as the daydream changed mental channels, I was dressed more like Laura Ingalls and listening to Pa talk about the weather. I was a farmer’s wife listening to her husband’s concern about the rain and wet that never had time to dry out between rain storms. I was a matriarch watching her sons and grandsons toil in dust.

And I realized that for most of our days as people, weather has been anything but Small Talk. It has been a matter of survival and prosperity. It has been a topic full of hope or worry. It has been a very REAL, very important conversation.

(I recognize that there are some today who still live with agrarian reality in their back yard. But many of us don’t. And even for those who do depend on their garden, my reality is that if the tomatoes don’t grow we can just buy some, somewhere. But this isn’t a post about vegetables or gardening or first world privilege.)

I realized that our language hasn’t caught up with our daily needs or our new reality as post industrial/technological people. I don’t know what an equivalent might be – how is your internet speed? gas mileage? relationship with co-workers or boss?
Our experiences are so much more varied and individual, how do we find a common ground question like ‘weather’.

Am I going to take the risk to push into awkward vulnerability with everyone I meet? (How’s your bank account holding up? How about that retirement account?) Probably not – who am I kidding, of course not. But I will instead begin to see that conversation about weather has a much deeper root in our common history. While I navigate this fractious and frightening time in our communities, and as I seek first to understand (others and) what is our common language, I will take shelter in knowing that like a good soaking rain, sometimes those conversations that are almost always about weather, may lead to deeper unseen roots that allow for friendship to flower.

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