Conversation reassures us that we are not alone. The great loneliness of the human heart is not only psychological. It is cosmic. Even though we have seven billion people to converse with, it disturbs us deeply to consider that we may be the only ‘intelligent life’ in the universe. We scan the radio waves from the furthest galaxies in the hope of ‘making contact’. Probably if we did we would soon be either trying to exploit them or destroy them.
The spiritual conversation of this week – with the scriptures and with each other – reveals something more about this compulsion and fear that has shaped human history as it can so easily shape and distort our own lives. When we turn towards a common point of attention and live together in that orientation what do we hope to find? An answer to our curious questions? Wisdom that will help us cope? Power that will make us succeed?
What we find in a conversation that has become truly silent – a conversation with the experience of silence – is that what we turn towards is already turned towards us. Furthermore it is holding steady, as we fail to do with our short attention span to anything other than ourselves. In this conversation we make contact with intelligent life that beams waves of love towards us, around us, through us. It is a real presence.
For presence to be real (not a group of people sitting in a room texting other people), there must be mutual presence. Jesus has real presence in himself even if we are distracted. He is present – as he says often in the gospels of this week – to the Father. His presence to us is an invitation to become present to him and so also to his Father and our Father. This alone allays the fear of the human heart that we are forever and everywhere alone.