By Dan Luke
Good morning. How are you doing? Do you think it’s going to rain? How’s your mother doing? We say and hear phrases like these every day. But do we listen to the reply? Small talk is the grease that keeps relationships going, but while it is essential to not being a social pariah, it does not nourish the soul.
I have been in six Fellowship Circles over many years and haven’t come away from a single one where I had not learned something wondrous or awful but always real and from the heart. I have always felt safe and able to express myself. But by far the best part of Fellowship Circles is the listening. When I first started going I found it very hard to listen without thinking about my response. I still find it hard, but I am getting better. We call it compassionate listening.
I have been to some Fellowship Circle meetings with the same or similar topics, but they all turn out different in fascinating ways.
As a facilitator I have found that I cannot judge easily which topics will go well. I did a topic about the kitchen table that I thought would be too simple, and it worked wonderfully with a lot of memories of earlier times, Formica, and chrome. I have led and participated in topics as deep as dying and as light as humor. I never am sorry I came.
I don’t go to Fellowship Circles for small talk, a discussion group, or therapy session. I go to them to get to know members in a safe, intimate, and loving way without judgment. I go to them to know people more deeply than small talk. I go to them to nourish my soul with friends.