I wonder if there is a spiritual discipline called “hanging-out.” Probably not, but I think I’m going to consider it to be one. Our small group practiced this “discipline” together on a fall camping week-end. We did very little together other than hang-out. We hung-out as we prepared meals, ate meals, and shared snacks (do you detect a theme?). We spent a lot of time talking around the fire in order to keep warm. Sometimes we hung-out in pairs as we took walks, looked for wood, or biked. It was a fabulous week-end of doing nothing more than hanging-out together.
Hanging-out with these friends made me love them all the more. We did a fair amount of chit-chat but had plenty of time to talk about some deep issues of the heart. I learned about some of the ethical issues one person deals with in his job. I heard another express the deep hurt she deals with as a result of a disagreement with church leaders. Grandparents shared the grief of having a special needs grandchild. We talked about our dreams for the future and some joys from the past. We prayed. We discussed a Bible passage. We laughed---and we just hung-out.
If your small group hasn’t taken the time to just be together, I’d recommend it. Sometimes we are so driven to finish a study or stay on track with a curriculum that we miss out on the friendship and community that develops by merely allowing time to hang-out. It’s a discipline. I’m sure of it!