As I write my last “Jottings” for St. Paul’s, I am reminded that good-byes are anything but easy and this one has proved to be no exception. You have been unceasing in your generous good wishes and expressions of affection. As the recipient of all this kindness, I am both moved and humbled.
All has served to remind me that to be human is to be connected to each other. To be human is to desire and need those connections. We discover our humanity most fully when we are in relationship with another. Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, pointed out that in any relationship there are three components: I, thou, and I-thou. What he meant was that as well as the two people in relationship, the relationship itself forms a “person,” too. Each person comes to a relationship with that unique and sacred self that God has given unto the world. The new “person” is the I-thou, which exists between those in relationship to each other. It is a relationship of great love and beauty. It does not obliterate the individual, but is a creation in itself.
This way of understanding our relationships is powerful. It helps explain why we experience our connections with each other as bigger than ourselves. Amazing things happen in that trembling space that connects one to the other. As individuals we can achieve little on our own, but together we can move mountains. Together, there is the potential for inspiration, creation, imagination, and the incarnation of love.
I will no longer be an immediate part of this community. Our I-thou is moving away from the immediacy of physical presence. For me, that brings a sense of great sadness. I have loved being with you and that isn’t something you just switch off. A wise friend tells me that our most sincere prayers are those of thanksgiving, because they are unsullied by self-centeredness. If this is so, and I believe it is, your living has been the source of my truest moments. Your faith, your individual struggles to respond to God’s loving will, your communal goodwill and dignity have often brought me to my knees in awe.
In saying this, I see afresh that our connection is not lost, for it is in thanksgiving we are eternally together. Thank God.
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves