Notes from a Meeting in Mexico City

As the afternoon progressed, any initial hesitancy disappeared and the readers became more emotionally engaged… we were finally rewarded with understanding.

Last weekend, I gathered together a group of readers from this mailing list who live in the vicinity of Mexico City. Their acquaintance with The Old New Method permitted us to jump right into a focused discussion. Before presenting my aim and vision for our meeting—even before inviting attendees to introduce themselves—we started reading the first scene from an experimental script on the Biblical story of Abraham and Sarah.

Theater is effective for sparking understanding. Lecturing is easier but more limited in scope as the mind has difficulty retaining information. All too soon, one new idea crowds out another. By contrast, understanding has staying power, like a seed that, once sparked, continues growing of its own accord.

Understanding lasts because it involves more of our being than knowledge alone. It is a marriage of knowing with feeling. I explained that this commingling of our minds with our hearts is personified in the story of Abraham and Sarah, who patiently wait and hope for a child.

After reading the first scene of our play, I mentioned that we would eventually be producing it. Where and how is, for now, irrelevant. I wanted everyone to know that they might soon find themselves taking responsibility for the lines they were reading. They might be asked to enact them, infuse them with emotion and conviction—to own them. Then, each person was asked to introduce themselves and share what had brought them to join our gathering.

The urge for truth can emerge in anyone. It may appear in a teenager dreading the formidable challenges of their future, or in one advanced in years pondering exaggerated concerns about their past. It may appear in a single person with time and resources on their hands or a parent stretched thin by endless obligations. It may appear in those living in poverty looking up from their hardship with frustration, or in someone looking down from their place of privilege with emptiness. The diversity of our group was a perfect illustration of this idea.

As the afternoon progressed, any initial hesitancy disappeared and the readers became more emotionally engaged. Abraham and Sarah were finally rewarded with a child; we were finally rewarded with understanding.

During the journey home, I considered how to establish a group with those who wished to continue meeting. It will be interesting to witness how it all unfolds as each person comes from a different background, brings to the table his or her own story, and harbors their own hopes and aims. Nevertheless, one thing I have verified from experience: the reasons that brought them to join will ultimately prove secondary. What will determine the course of their development is why they choose to stay.