Driving in rural England is very different than the US. First, it is easy to get an A-Z map book. They are available in gas stations, bookstores, and the UK equivalent of a seven-eleven. Second, in contrast to most maps, every highway, byway, street, road, and even drivable path is marked and noted with intimate details. What confuses you as a driver is the roads that are not really roads; the extreme are hedge lined, one plus a half a car wide from hedge leaf to leaf, curving tree canopy seems to go on endlessly with no driveways, exits, or intersected roads. Once you are on this path, you are on the path until the end!
The past days have been consumed with labor meetings followed by yet more gatherings. The agendas were open, and the conversation collegial, however there was a clear, almost impenetrable wall between management and the councils. Yet, it was the dialogue that determined the future. Could we find a way to share our beliefs, values, and priorities so that we could share common ground? Did we know just how much we longed for the same things? Did everyone understand what was and is at risk?
In the course of our dialogue I found myself listening to my own fears, uncertainties, and doubts being expressed by someone I had never met. I heard my own voice echoing through the varied cultures of Europe. I watched as the potential mountains shrunk as we pushed through them together.
There were some tough moments. At times the response to a question was too quick; the words, through their tone and timing, delivering a message of war, regardless of their specific meanings. We were almost caught in a swirling mess of assumptions, saved only by a word or phrase I believe inspired directly by the Deity of the Universe.
Relationships and conversations do not have to be a rural England road. They can be an incredible experience shared with a co-pilot.
“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.” (Proverbs 14.29)