I visited with one of my department chairpersons yesterday evening. Just past five o’clock, we met at El Maguey’s over at Winfield. Among several fine characteristics about El Maguey’s at Winfield is that it is located just a couple of blocks away from Cowley College’s Winfield outreach facility.
We sat sipping drinks, dipping chips into salsa and munching on bits of conversation in between crunches. Even though the talking was pretty much entirely focused on college concerns, there was a bit more discernment going on above that. In the process of sharing thoughts and ideas, rational reflections and ambitious notions, we came to know each other a bit better on a personal level as well.
Admittedly, there wasn’t anything said that could not have been said in his office or mine.
But those things would have been said in a slightly different manner. We probably wouldn’t have laughed quite as loudly. And we definitely would not have toasted the future in quite the same manner.
It’s not that relationships cannot be built up through interactions at work. It’s not that we can’t forge bonds of collegial quality within the confines of academia. But I believe that it’s in those other aspects, the road trips, conversations over coffee and recollections shared from long ago that we provide a greater dimension. It’s these sorts of semi-casual caring, the insights into the people behind the roles that can cultivate the depth and connection that carries us through the disagreements and quarrels, the controversies and intensities.
Ultimately, I find that when people are willing to take a little time with each other, time to understand the perspectives of the Other, we become something stronger than a work unit. If we are willing to genuinely care about each other, even at some point willing to love one another, we are able to endure more, able to accomplish more, able to thrive more.
Perhaps those are among the reasons why our Creator taught us to love others as we love ourselves.