Yesterday morning, Mark sent me the following tweet: “You and I are gonna fall out ;)” in response to me upping the ante in a playful argument: “John and Charles Wesley – heretics or no?”
First, I had to look up “fall out” to make sure that it meant the same thing in the UK that it does here in the US, and it does. Falling out, for those of you who are lucky enough never to have had use for the expression, means no longer being on speaking terms with someone after a particularly serious disagreement. For those of you unfamiliar with emoticons, ” ;)” indicated that he was teasing.
Too often, falling out of step with one another leads us to fall out altogether – but there are other possibilities. It is especially exciting for me when I discover the places where I am out of step with new friends – it is a sign that the connections we have made are becoming strong enough to risk essential differences.
Later in the day, I found myself in a more serious conversation with Mark about the purpose of legal marriage, which led to me considering the purpose of the nation state, and also to realizing how many conversations of late were drawing my attention to my increasing lack of political ideology (mistrust of political ideology?), in favor of an ad hoc questioning of particular policies from the perspective of who gets hurt and who benefits. Throughout the exchange of tweets, I noticed that we were falling in and out of step with one another. In the process, I was being stretched to look at the issue of marriage from a different perspective than I had in a long time – I was paying attention to my feet, and the way they were moving.
Soldiers, when they march, move in lockstep – artificially changing their gait so that they move in perfect concert with one another. It is good for discipline, and for traveling as a group over long distances – but when they get to a bridge, they have to fall out of step. The artificial consistency of their steps, vehemently beating out a perfect rhythm, can create a dangerous wave motion, destroying the bridge as they cross it.
I won’t deny that there is such a thing as real consensus – that consensus is not always imposed through tyranny or feigned by the non-confrontational. However, in my own life experience, building bridges that last requires that those who cross those bridges be comfortable falling out of step with one another. Else they may find themselves falling off the bridge altogether.
So to Mark – and to Will and to Peach and to Scott and to Maddy and to the many others with whom I have found myself comfortably out of step from time to time – I thank God for you! May we continue to fall out – and back in – as we run with patience the race that is set before us!