Coffee and conversation: both blessings to behold. Together, they can create community.
I recall such good conversations over coffee in college: with my favorite English professor, with my sister and dear friend (scones included, of course!), and with our Bible study group. There’s something about gathering for a warm cuppa that creates warm conversation.
My favorite coffee-and-conversation memory is with my grandpa. He loved coffee, too. We would leisurely chat about current events, history tidbits, and family lore, one sip at a time. It wasn’t just grabbing a cup of coffee together. It was cultivating meaningful memories.
How important it is to take time for good conversation with family, friends, and co-workers alike, especially in our current times.
We should take time to check in with colleagues amid hectic deadlines or text or call a friend to chat.
We should have that blessed conversation with a loved one who needs some quality time, discussing ancestral history and other interesting topics of mutual interest. That time is precious, for you will uncover knowledge about the other person—and yourself—and maybe even gain greater understanding of family dynamics and heirlooms alike.
Presence and Prioritizing Relationships
As Saint Francis de Sales put it:
To take the air, to go for a stroll, to enjoy a friendly chat,
… are such honest diversions that the only thing needed to utilize them
well is simple prudence, which gives
to all things their rank, time, place and measure.
I think what this eminent Saint and Doctor of the Church means is that “a friendly chat” should be enjoyed because of the company it includes. Prudence aids us in discerning who most needs that time of conversation on any given day, time, and place. Perhaps some need all three, as “The Gentleman Saint” noted: fresh air, a stroll, and a good chat. Pray that you can know who that is and respond accordingly.
Good conversation may seem like a simple thing but it is truly a necessary part of Christian life. Faith and fellowship go hand in hand. Through speech, we can help others work out a problem or what is causing them to worry or focus on what brings them joy... and everything in between.
Cultivating Consistent Chats
Practically, how can we add more chats into a life, with or without coffee?
Set a time and place.
Have a favorite coffee shop? Text a friend and meet. Need to meal plan? Invite your sister who needs to do so, too, and plan together. Have to get your walk in? Call a companion and set out. In need of more family time? Schedule a Sunday dinner for a good meal and, most of all, conversation.
Bring a Bible or book or quote of the day.
Delve into Scripture while you enjoy your favorite cold brew, latte, or mocha with friends, neighbors, or church group. Or talk about a good read. What speaks to you and where you all are in your life circumstances? What Saint quote inspires you of late? Insights will abound as the conversation flows.
Discern what to discuss.
What is a topic this person needs to discuss? Pray about it beforehand. Is it a fun diversion, like paint colors or decorating ideas or the latest must-try recipe or must-see show or movie? Or it is something more serious: heartfelt advice on a subject of concern?
Sometimes it could and should mean praying together.
Also, think of questions you’d like to ask. Maybe you’ve always wanted to know the story behind cherished religious art in your grandparents’ home. Why do they love it? Maybe it’s why you love it, too. Is there a story about a relative that is worthy of retelling? Could the other person offer a new perspective or needed advice to you? Delve deep and you will be blessed.
Most of all, focus on the company.
As Pope Saint John Paul II put it in his “Letter to Women”:
women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.
Whether you are chatting over coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, or walking and talking out on your favorite jaunt, or at your kitchen table enjoying a homemade meal or treat, whether with friends or family, the persons before you are of supreme importance. God’s daughters or sons are in front of you and need your time and attention at that moment. That knowledge transforms a simple chat into something truly blessed.
What's your favorite way to cultivate conversation and community? What challenges have you faced in your efforts to do so?
Amy Smith is the associate editor of the National Catholic Register, a service of EWTN, and the author of The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women. Amy spends her days drinking coffee while editing features; she likes to write about everything from hope and Saints (her favorites are Thérèse and Gianna) to Jane Austen. You can find out more about her here.