Where you are understood, you are home.
John O’Donohue was an Irish poet who wrote about beauty, spirituality, and imagination. Central to these ideas is the theme of connection. Beauty connects us to something larger than ourselves; there is a transcendent element. Spirituality could be said as the search for this connection to the transcendent. And imagination is also an enlarging act: we learn to see with others’ eyes, to experience what others have experienced. This, too, is an act of connection.
I have been thinking about this idea of connection as it relates to conversation. Too often, conversations linger at the mere point of communication, rather than striking through the surface to a point of connection. We have all felt this. It may have been during a banal conversation regarding the weather, or a moment when we shared something about which we care deeply, only to be met with a blank face.
Sometimes, however, when we are fortunate, we find real conversation, real connection. Communication comes from our souls, not just our heads. The topic matters much less that what’s said underneath the topic. We can connect while talking about sports; we can connect while talking about religion, or love, or pain. Underneath the topic is the knowing nod, the piercing eye contact. This connection is more felt than observed. This connection is the realization: “What I am saying this person has felt.”
So rarely do we function at that level.
We rarely bring conversations to that level, and our friends rarely do, either. I can count on my hands the conversations I’ve had at that level in the last months, the level where I am sharing feelings and thoughts I could not articulate before I opened my mouth, the level where the person across from me smiles broader with each sentence that I speak. I have had the most with my wife. A few, I’ve had with other friends.
Most of the time, I don’t care about going to that level. I don’t think about it.
Yet, if John O’Donohue is right, and I think he is, I ought to go to that level again and again. For when I am truly understood: when I say things that I didn’t know I thought until I had the freedom to say them; when I find true connection with the person across the table, then I am home.
Home is a place of freedom, of connection, of reality, of beauty. Home is a spiritual place.
May we, today, work to find that place of home with another.