I recently had the privilege of being with friends, working in the higher and finer vibrational ranges that I know in my life. I know we have the opportunity to do this deliberately whenever we’d like. We have the opportunity for communion whenever we choose, and some of that communion is more intimate than others. And there is a wide range of vibration available in those experiences.
I’ve been considering, over this last couple of weeks, this experience of communion and what it takes to get what it is that we long for. I had a beautiful conversation with some friends on Friday about how we deliberately bring communion into our workplace and into the things that we do. Whether or not people are aware of it, everyone wants it. We find our ways of deflecting it because we’re either afraid it’s going to hurt or afraid we might hurt somebody, or just feel like it’s a high-risk endeavor when, in fact, even though I don’t like this phrase it’s in our enlightened self-interest. That’s a phrase so many people throw around. But I do think that if you’re longing to know communion and intimacy with somebody, you have to recognize that there are things you can do to allow that to happen. While the words intimacy and communion have different meanings, they both imply connection that is nourishing.
I watched a video by a young man, Prince Ea, entitled “Why Most Relationships Fail.” He speaks about the fear of conflict. He speaks about the belief that conflict is bad and that it shouldn’t happen. He states the obvious—that no two people see things the same way and eventually there will be disagreement; and we have the opportunity to handle it creatively, deliberately caring for the other person. There is a belief that conflict or disagreement is an indication that something is wrong with the relationship. As Prince Ea says about that kind of thinking, “Cut it out!”
If you believe that when conflict comes in a relationship something is wrong and communion ends, then you have a limited understanding of what communion is. Communion involves a connection that is cared for and important. It is a knowing that we are better, more powerful and more creative together than apart. Conflict and disagreements are going to happen. When they do you have the opportunity to be kind and caring to the other person and to yourself. The feeling of shock that can come with conflict can feel like anger or sadness. I never knew this side of you! I thought we saw things the same way. This is a time to take a look at your own beliefs and structures. No two people think love looks the same way, which means that no two people are in communion the same way, even those in the same relationship.
There is a book entitled The Five Languages of Love that addresses this reality. Ultimately there is learning to be had, but the first big step is just to acknowledge that the differences are real and not threatening.
Communion and intimacy are not based on how alike we are and how comfortable I am with you because we are so alike. There are abundant studies that address why “opposites attract.” I know I have been drawn to people who were the opposite of me. They filled in a part of life I never knew. Or perhaps it was just too uncomfortable for me to venture into. It’s not uncommon for the freshness of the difference to fall away and there is then a longing for something more similar. The opposite is also true. Even though the familiar offers comfort and ease, it can lead to boredom and staleness.
If you are looking for communion with another person without any conflict or disagreement, you’re in a self-defeating pattern, because in the process of being intimately in communion with someone, what happens? We discover that we’re not the same. We discover that we see things differently, we feel things differently. We can wonder, “Why in the world are you seeing it that way? That’s not the way it really is.” We actually challenge each other about whether or not what we’re feeling is true, because “I’m feeling this—you can’t possibly be feeling that!” When someone is feeling challenged or uncomfortable we may take the stance “Well, there must be something wrong with you,” leading to unnecessary conflict, relationship failure and communion avoidance.
We can slow down, breathe, and realize that a few moments of thoughtful kindness will prevent many hours of regret. There are stories from times in my life when I wished I could take my words and actions back, because I didn’t go slow enough and I wasn’t kind enough.
So when I speak about communion, one of the things I think is really important for people to get in touch with is the fact that there does need to be some emotional intelligence involved. People think that relationships can be worked out with well-written contracts. I know people who create wedding vows and will make sure that they’ve got on paper everything that they’re agreeing to: You’ll do the trash, I’ll do the dishes; you take care of the dog, I’ll take care of the cat. Even coming down to how many nights I’ll have free, how many nights we’ll be intimate—all those things, as if that’s the way to secure communion. While those agreements are designed to prevent conflict, there is no way to avoid it. Handled with emotional intelligence, disagreements can lead to growth and more communion.
There are things people should discuss up front before making commitments. I know people who have gotten married and didn’t realize one of them didn’t want children. That’s a discussion that should happen before you get married, don’t you think? And there are many things that people don’t take the time to talk about. But if you’re talking about real intimacy, you can have all those agreements in place, and as soon as you see something different from me we can act with emotional intelligence around those differences.
I’ve found one of the greatest ways to start is to be kind. As soon as I turn on my desire to be kind, I stop being so sure of myself about being “right.” When conflict or disagreement arises it’s important to remember I’m in a relationship with you, and that relationship is not entirely based on this one thing that’s come to issue. So where is the kindness in my heart to recognize this whole sphere, this whole generation of substance of our connection that is being challenged by this issue that’s just come up between us? What’s being challenged is that you are not meeting the view I have of you. You are not meeting the way in which I have been seeing you all this time, or the way in which I’d really like you to be.
So when you have that realization, you can also know how much of that is about you and how very little of it has to do with the person with whom you think you’re in conflict. Why not step back and be kind to yourself first and say, I must have had some kind of expectation here that I need to look at. That will lead to a different experience than saying, I had an expectation; you’re not meeting it—what are you going to do about it? I know a lot of conflicts where the undercurrent is What are you going to do about it? And if you don’t change, then it’s on you, not on me.
The intimacy of communion, no matter at what level we’re talking about—the people you work with, your family, or anyone else—is dependent on a certain amount of respect, care, kindness, understanding, patience and timing. Your intellect may want to tell you how to fix these conflicts. But your emotional intelligence will assist you to know more of what is normal and natural between you—loving communion.
I would suggest that the intellect by itself has very little effectiveness in these circumstances, because it is not the thing that’s being challenged. It’s not the thing that’s saying, I feel uncomfortable. The very words I feel indicate this is more about your heart than it is about your mind. I’m feeling some kind of challenge here; I’m feeling some kind of break in my connection with you. What is that about? Many people have heard of the close-your-mouth-and-count-to-ten strategy. It’s usually enough for at least one or two breaths, to get into your body, to settle you into a stillness that will allow you to change your perspective, change your direction, change the way you’re looking at something.
This poem by Chris Foster is about change. Change will happen as you share communion, whether it’s in your job, with your friends, or in your family. I know people who are just finding out things about their partners after twenty-five years of marriage. I know someone who just ended a relationship after forty years. Forty years—you’d think they knew everything about each other by then. But sometimes they’re living in a place of not really wanting to reveal who they are because they know they don’t have the capacity to handle change or conflict. They don’t have the capacity to be themselves and be comfortable knowing that it might make someone they love uncomfortable.
So here it is:
My friend used to say,
as I nodded wisely,
“Drastic changes are a’coming.”
And he was right, of course.
My goodness, was he ever right.
I’ve stopped counting them.
But the biggest change of all
—and the most beautiful—
is realizing that this stillness
in which I find true home
is my own stillness.
It is my own presence
and it doesn’t change
from one moment to the next,
or one lifetime
to the next.
How cool is that?
It is the cause of all change
—from the cheerful to the most dire—
yet is untouched
by any of it.
As we know communion with this stillness in our own heart, we can share it with another. I had an experience once when I was receiving some bodywork to release an unhealthy pattern in my body. The therapist touched something and I started to cry, and I said, “Just give me a minute.” And she said, “For what?” I said, “I’d like to get this under control.” She asked, “Why?” And I said, “Because if I start crying, I don’t think I’ll stop.” And she said, “Then you have to cry.” There was a heartbreak present that I was protecting. I was afraid that if I stopped protecting it I would become lost, or even disappear. That pattern has interfered in my experience as I didn’t want anyone touching it. Do you think that hasn’t shown up in my life? Of course it has. I have to be willing to be kind to my own inner conflicts as well as those that come up between me and another person.
This experience brought me in touch with the fact that there are things in our hearts that we are afraid to see or touch. If we are in the stillness of our true identity, in communion with the Divine that we are, which is stronger? Which is more reliable? I can assure you that whatever conflict you’ve touched in your heart is from your humanity, and what you touch when you touch your own divinity and the stillness of who you are is from forever. The things that may have caused our heart to be tender or feel like it’s broken—things that we may never really want to look at—probably happened in a situation of conflict where, at the time, you didn’t know how to handle it. The other person probably didn’t know how to handle it either. And so we tuck it away in a place where, we believe, it will be safe and never revealed. But it’s slipping out all over the place.
Discovering that your heart might have a wound is a great gift, even if it is a little scary. There are people who love you way more than the thing that you’re touching in your heart, and they love you even though they’ve known about that wound and you’ve never shared it. Do you think those things don’t show up with your friends? They do, and they don’t care nearly as much as you do, because the grandness of who you are, the beauty of who you are, the Being who you are far exceeds that thing that you’re holding and protecting.
Let us look at ourselves and our friends with kindness and care. The whole universe is longing to be in communion with you, and that includes the people in your immediate world. We are made to know this and be blessed by it. Let yourself receive the experience of holy communion with another person.