I know. This year, of all years, we are dreading being around the table with a certain aunt, or a very old family friend, or a group of strangers, and having to talk. About something, anything, other than that. Politics. Religion. Various lifestyle choices or eating habits. Whatever it is, there will be strong opinions. Whatever it is, there will be eye-rolling. This year, there may be raised voices. And there is lots of advice about how to avoid it - the awkward conversations, the heated subject matter.
But I don't think we should. This year, of all years, is the time to consider that holiday tables may be places of real peace. Not the surface calm of pretending we don't have real differences, that we are not hurting or anxious about things.
But the real opportunity to look into the eyes, and grasp the hands, of people who really hold views that may confuse, disturb, even frighten us, and to love them anyway. To offer them another slice of pie, even. And to talk. Really talk. Really listen.
This is a time of real division in our national community. I don't know a single person who is not concerned about some aspect of our common life. And a lot of that concern comes from feeling helpless to change things, feeling dismayed that collectively, we don't really know one another.
And I am convinced we can make the world a better place, one holy conversation at a time. I am convinced that holiday gatherings are a perfect place to start practicing our skills - learning to listen, feel, share, thank, and give. To really see one another as brothers and sisters, even if we disagree.
I am so convinced that if you let me, I am going to walk with you through the practice this week. We can change the world, with one holy conversation at a time. And a little pie.