I am postponing writing the second part of my reaction to noted atheist Richard Dawkins in order to relive and share an experience I just had. I am away from the parish for series of meetings of all the pastors of parishes staffed by the Congregation of Holy Cross. Prior to the week-long meetings, I was present at the priesthood ordination of one of our members. It was great to greet this young man into the presbyterate (when did they start ordaining them so young?)!
Between the ordination ceremony and the reception and dinner which followed, a close friend and I went to grab some coffee and talk a bit. We started our own ordination journeys together, as freshmen in high school, but have rarely been assigned anywhere near each other, so catching up was appealing to us both.
We never made it to either the reception or the dinner. The first time either of us looked at a clock, we’d been talking and listening for about six hours! We had as authentic a conversation as I’ve ever had. In fact, the closest to it I immediately remembered was the way we and a few other friends would talk as a group in high school!
The least significant part of our conversation was the ‘what have you been up to’ part. Rather, the ‘who have you become and what’s it been like for you’ was the real focus and gift. Heart was speaking to heart.
I know this is how my parents communicated during their 66 year marriage. I would think and hope this is the way many people in long term partnership and marriage would spend a lot of their time communicating. But for me it was a rare insight of what it is to be faithful to the Holy Cross constitution that warns against speaking least of what concerns us most.
I’m not sure this sort of experience can be planned. But, clearly, one (two, really, or more) has to be predisposed for it to occur. We started by reflecting on a few friends and family members who have died and the impacts they had on us. Soon we were talking of our own illnesses and issues of mortality (there was nothing morbid about it at all, and we laughed often). Then conversation entered the zone, and time stopped mattering. It strikes me that the deeper our communication, the less we are aware of time. Sort of a taste of eternal life and the ultimate, divine communication we are promised. Perhaps that’s a key way to make the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. What do you think?