A few weeks ago, one of our new parishioners introduced me to a group that meets on Zoom every Saturday morning. It is a book discussion group and we have about six men who participate in the weekly discussion. I have so far been at two meetings, and I must say it has been enriching. At the last session this past Saturday, our conversation led us to the concept of resonance. What resonates with you? Is there a particular person who resonates with you?
The reality is that not everything resonates with us and not everyone will resonate with us.
The conversation reminded me of a story about a schoolmate. When I was in boarding school, there was this one student who was a year ahead of me. For whatever reason, I never interacted with him throughout the four years that I knew him as a student at the school. Of all the students that I came across, he was one person that I had absolutely nothing to do with - not even an occasional smile. Something about him just didn’t resonate with me. It wasn’t like he did anything to me, but something about him was not going to be my cup of tea - and not only that, but I have carried this feeling with me for over thirty years since.
Years later, around 2011, he sent me a Facebook friend request... and I have still not responded to that request.
Since Saturday - when I shared this story with the group - wondered about why this has been the case; mind you, I haven’t seen this fellow since he graduated in 1989. So why am I even thinking about that, or why is this even a conversation? It is stunning how different issues that may lay latent within us can suddenly spring up when a related issue arises.
I am sure you can also recount similar situations, like relationships or friendships, or perhaps a work environment where another person didn’t connect with you, or vice versa. In relationships, for instance, some people refer to resonance as chemistry.
I have wondered about what it is that connects us with others. Why didn’t I connect with my schoolmate? What stood in your way as you sought to connect with another person? Granted, we cannot resonate with every single human being on the planet, but what is it that generated the resonance you have with your spouse, friend, or colleague? What’s the magic?
We may assign different reasons for why we are able to connect with some and not others, or why we resonate with one and not the other. But I’d like to believe that at the core of who we are is a deep sense of oneness with all of creation that actually shapes our connectedness with one another.
If only we can always remind ourselves that life is not about the number of breaths that we take, but the moments that take our breath away, and that we will see each moment and each person as an opportunity to build something, connect, and resonate. We will see in each moment and person the grace of what the poet Robert Graves defined as love: “a recognition of another person’s integrity and truth in a way that… makes both of you light up when you recognize the quality in the other.” It is possible that that is what I missed with my schoolmate or what you may also have missed with whoever - we fail to see the mystery of each other. But that shouldn’t be the end of our story.
Here’s a story for you: two climbers - an experienced climber and a beginner - set out to climb a mountain. When they crossed the halfway point, the beginner looked at the undergrowth and began to lament:
But where is the beautiful scenery you were talking about all the time?
His experienced companion smiled and answered:
You’re in the center of it. You will see it when we reach the top of the mountain
As a beginner, the beauty of where he was standing wasn’t enough to resonate with him. As a beginner, he may have missed the importance of even being halfway through the climb. As a beginner, he may have missed the point of the climb, it is not about getting to the top to see the beauty. As a beginner, he couldn’t connect with the experience of the climb. This beginner was looking for something different. And that is often our hurdle - we look for something different in places, in moments, and in others to resonate with us in order to connect with them.
I once had a schoolmate with whom I never connected, because something about him didn’t resonate with me. I may have been looking for something different in him, but if only I had seen him through the quality of love and the mystery that he is, I may have found more than what I was seeing in him.
May our life together resonate with love, beauty, and the mystery that is you and me. That way, we can see more than we expect to see in each other.