Where you are understood, you are home.

John O’Donohue

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.

One thought on “Conversation

  1. Gabe,

    Reminder–I am Kristi’s maternal grandmother. I love reading your thoughts on the blog. Here is a poem that my sister sent me I thought you might enjoy:

    The Sacrament of Waiting – Macrina Wiederkehr

    Slowly she celebrated the sacrament of letting go.
    First she surrendered her green,
    then the orange, yellow, and red
    finally she let go of her brown.
    Shedding her last leaf
    she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
    Leaning against the winter sky
    she began her vigil of trust.

    Shedding her last leaf
    she watched its journey to the ground.
    She stood in silence
    wearing the color of emptiness,
    her branches wondering;
    How do you give shade with so much gone?

    And then,
    the sacrament of waiting began.
    The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness.
    Clothing her with silhouettes
    they kept her hope alive.

    They helped her understand that
    her vulnerability,
    her dependence and need,
    her emptiness,
    her readiness to receive
    were giving her a new kind of beauty.
    Every morning and every evening they stood in silence
    and celebrated together
    the sacrament of waiting.

    Keep up the good writing!

    Marilyn (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s