All real living is meeting.
*Martin Buber. I and Thou.
Here, Buber means by "meeting" when the other is met in their sacredness, another subject corresponding to our being subject: "I" with "I," not "I" with "it." Sometimes, I refer to this as "connection, "communion," "holy communion," "togetherness," "being-with," "intimacy," "heart-with-heart," ... This meeting is, then, not merely a meeting. And not to enjoy this kind of heart-communion means being biologically functional, one is not alive.
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An underlying meaning of "strange" is, arising from the Latin, "foreign, external, from without." Literally, the other we see to be "outside us," outside the familiar territory we are equipped to see the other within. The otherness of the other we find does not fit any territory, we cannot find it on any mental map. We are non-local.
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After meeting with a new friend...
I find a strangeness about her. I explore that strangeness. I press onward with questions, challenging. I observe verbal responses but, also, nonverbal. I do not want to press too hard, so I use humor to encourage and soften the process.
We talk, laugh, and I keep asking question after question. She struggles to find words to answer with any preciseness; she struggles to look eye-to-eye. We end, again, as always, smiling and with the familiar strangeness present. Yet, the strangeness is part of the joy we share, the playfulness that moves and will not let anyone take hold of it.
I do not feel my questions an attempt to eliminate the strangeness, the elusive yet seductive Otherness. I am seeking to affirm it and allow some sense of practical clarity to come forth of matters she struggles to see and give shape to. - There is a mystery, even Mystery, about us all, but within the Mystery is so much to know and show, if we choose.
I leave, glad to have allowed the strangeness I am to meet the strangeness of the other. To let the strangeness kind of hang in the air and questions float around without an answer in sight - possibly, that is part of this quality of Otherness that will not yield to our grasp for clarification.
We need to let strangeness be strangeness, for Spirit unveils Spirit. We need to let ourselves somewhat be strangers to one another in our relationships. We may think this detracts from closeness, but by welcoming the strangeness of the other, deeper intimacy becomes present.
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What we really want from others is not to unveil their strangeness but to meet it, enter it in the same union in which our strangeness is entered by the other. We aspire to feel the Unknown alive in and through the other and know It beyond knowing. We desire to enjoy the otherness, allowing the same otherness in us to meet and commune in an original, undiluted, and unexplained oneness. And, in some way, we find this Mystery we meet in the otherness leads to a profound reverence. We discover we each are a particular, lived radiance of this one Sun, a loving and lovable Grace.
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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.