Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.
(from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle)
Dangling conversations aren’t foreign to most of us. Unspoken heartaches, silent glances, muffled awkwardness over misguided missiles invading territories long ago left unprotected. Verses out of rhythm and couplets out of rhyme…whatever the reason or the breakdown in communication, the outcome is always the same…sorrowful sighs of something lost and uncertain. What can we do when we’re dangling on the edge of the sighs of silence? What happens to us when conversation stops in midair, words no longer volley back and forth, no one scoring the better position, or getting points for thinking quickly on their feet? Why do we lose our ability to keep a conversation moving?
One time or another, perhaps even more often than we care to reflect, we find ourselves in noiseless conversation, talking but not being heard, hoping to make an impact with thoughts that have been buried deeply in the heart for hours or days or even longer than that. Yes, silence is golden, but not when you genuinely need communication, when you need to feel visible, heard, perhaps even appreciated.
For me, one of the most subtle forms of abuse in any relationship is the one where one person is desperate to talk, to get the ideas flowing, the solutions discovered, the needs unwrapped and sorted through, and the other person, the one other person that most matters refuses to take part, refuses to come to the table, to discuss the matters at hand. Worse yet is the pretense of starting conversation on topics that matter only to shut down at the first hurdle, unable to go on because all that is ahead could be unknown territory. Stop! Stop shutting down! Find another road, but hold on, hold hands, hold yourself together and keep going so that the moment can come for resolution, for truth, for recognition of what can and must be done, even for prayer to help bring all things back into perspective and balance.
True communication seldom happens, at least not to completion. It’s surprising how easily misunderstood a phrase or a gesture or an idea might be. The simplest intentions become roadblocks and dangling conversations are created, pausing the progress, omitting the most needed nouns and verbs, the most important heartfelt thoughts. Listen to your words, to your intentions, listen to the other person you love, the one you are trying so hard to share this life with and keep things moving, lovingly, gently, clearly, all the way to laughter and hugs of joy.
Dangling conversations are like half baked cakes, jam without toast, music without harmony. Finish what you meant to say, say what you hoped to say, kindly forming the thoughts that keep you strong, keep you connected. Don’t hang up on anyone, especially the ones you love most. Keep the lines of communication open. You’ll be glad you did. If nothing else, it’s great practice for your prayer life.