All Real Living Is Meeting

"All real living," Martin Buber wrote, "is meeting." One consequence of this emphasis is the recognition that "the fundamental reality of human existence is to be found not in conceptual abstractions, but in concrete human relationships." Not in "I think, therefore I am," but in "How are you?"

--James Carroll, Christ Actually (p. 150)

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11 thoughts on “All Real Living Is Meeting”

  1. My grandson who is 2 and 1/2 asked me the other day as were going into a department store if there were "people in there." I answered that yes there were. His answer to that was, "Pop, I don't like people much." I have to admit that I agree with him sometimes. A friend told me one time that he longed for fellowship like he had years ago with his dope smoking buddies. No expectations, no judgment. I'm torn between desiring accountability and wishing people would just leave me the heck alone.

  2. Nimble..

    I can certainly relate to how you feel in being torn. As one who works with the public I sometimes feel like running out the door screaming. yet, as a Christian, speaking only for myself, I feel that in order for each day, each moment, to be a new life, I MUST walk out my door striving to see each person I meet as "me"; as one who has worries, fears, pain, and a yearning for God or for whatever that person experiences as beyond self. Have I perfected this? Heavens no!! But, as strange as it may sound, it is the failure that often makes me feel alive. Maybe it is the experience of falling on my "spiritual butt" that keeps me awake to the need of being more than I am at the moment.

  3. "Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you may come; that your carriage and your life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come cheerfully to walk over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them bless you."
    George Fox, 1656.

  4. I am a convicted felon, and by the grace of God I am able to work in a small non-profit that helps my brothers and sisters who have been in trouble with the law to turn their lives around. Buber absolutely nails what so many of our clients need, perhaps most of all: someone to ask them that question, and then actually listen to their reply. That is where healing can begin for an offender, and then her reentry back into society. Restorative justice can begin only where two humans establish a human relationship. From there, more human relationships can be established. Eventually, the one who originally needed so badly to be heard can be the one who listens, even to the ones he offended against. That is the reestablishment of relationships, the rebuilding of community.

    Every one of us is the prodigal child, whether some of us realize it or not, and we are all cracked and broken vessels. At the same time, we are called to be good neighbors, not judges. Jesus was very clear about that. He didn't say it would be easy. And it is certainly not easy for most of us to listen non-judgmentally, and to engage another person constructively in the same way. But it can be done. And given how many people out there take judgementalism to its ugliest extreme, I think it is incumbent on every one of us to do what we can, when we can, with the people we come in contact with, no matter who they are.

    I always liked that old saw, "don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution." Now I prefer to think more along the lines of "be the blessing that someone else will be able to thank God for today."

    Grace and blessings.

  5. I guess anyone who works with the public understands. I teach middle school. We are "on" 24/7 in the small rural community that I live in here in GA.

  6. God & human relationships. Heck yeah! It took a real long time to get the daily contact thing going so it is the first thing I think abt & turn to when I am w/out human buddies but that sustains me in a wilderness and he speaks to me in the created moment.

  7. Your post brought a knowing smile to my face. My wife retired after spending 25 years in a public school classroom in a small rural county in Georgia (Oglethorpe).

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