I just came back from vacation, and I thought I would share something that I learned while soaking in the clothing optional hot springs. When people first showed up in the luxuriantly warm and healing waters, they entered as individuals or in small groups and then they would proceed to remain so. I wondered if they really wanted to be alone, so I started approaching people and asking them a few questions to “break the ice.” Before long, I got to know a few names and details and I started introducing people to each other. Next thing I knew, people were making new friends and chatting sociably with people who had been previously total strangers.
After a while, I came to the conclusion that these people didn’t *really* want to be alone. They *wanted* to get to know each other, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t break through the invisible wall separating them from the delightfully interesting people who were all around them. They needed somebody to give them permission to speak to each other. Maybe I learned this lesson from my dad, who became friends with waiters and grocery check-out clerks everywhere we went.
Certainly, Jesus was a Master at asking questions. His questions were probing and insightful, and he often offered questions in response to questions that were asked of him. John 21:23-27 is a really fun example of Jesus answering a question with a question.
Back to the hot springs… I began to work on developing some good questions. Most people don’t mind being asked where they are from and what they do. John Goss is a delightful entertainer, and I’ve heard him ask an audience member, “I know it’s not polite to ask a woman her age, so…. How much do you weigh?” I always like to see if I can get people talking about deeper and more interesting things, so I would ask, “Have you ever read a book that changed your life?” One woman said that she was writing a book of wise advice for her niece and she asked me if I had anything to contribute. I thought that was a wonderful question, because it made me think if there was anything I had learned in my life that would be worth passing along to this woman’s niece.
One thing I love about Snowmass Chapel’s website is that it is designed for conversation. We start the conversation, but then you continue the conversation with your comments. So I think it would be really fun to hear about your favorite questions – both the ones you like to ask and the questions others have asked you. I can’t wait to read your best ideas!