Developing a ‘Sitting Culture’

26 Sep
Fritz Eichenberg’s “The Last Supper”

Fritz Eichenberg’s “The Last Supper”

Recently, I went back out West to revisit my alma mater. I sat on campus waiting for an old friend. She was very late so I took my time to people-watch. Doing so reminded me of an article I wrote for a publication on campus a while back. I called it “The Looking Culture.” I wrote about a theory that college students are particularly bad at communication. I noted that students spend more energy watching each other, talking about each other, and having sex with each other than actually connecting and conversing. Sitting on the quad now I began to rethink my presumptuous theory. I knew a whole lot of watching was going on, but how can one measure the quality of other’s conversations?

So, I began walking around in order to catch utterances of the many conversations going on during passing period. I wanted to be pleasantly surprised, but the popular talking topics of these educated people were the following: hooking up, what teacher is a “d-bag,” who drank the most last night, what girl is a B, and what guy is “so funny.” I noticed that none of these conversations were actually conversations; they were essentially opportunities for people to talk. In each instance the speaker spoke over the other to vent an opinion then the other spoke over the first to vent their own (which were not always related).

I was jarred by these conversations, in part, because I have experienced a new kind of culture since college. Conversely, it is what I call “Sitting Culture,” and one Minnesota is particularly good at living out. It is the habit and ability of taking time to be with friends. Time is the necessary ingredient in order for the young person’s frantic watching to become seeing. In sitting with each other, we cultivate the invisible things: humor, nuances, patience, trust, and intelligent thoughts.

This is also the secret to the happy person in prayer. Many of us may not find peace in the Church precisely because of our inability to sit with God. This disquiet leaves us watchers of religion and starers at Mass. But God seeks to converse and connect with us. He is the God who spent his time with the sloppy Apostles and sinners at table, and the same man who seeks time with us.

– Laura Eusterman


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