For the past few years one of my longtime colleagues has been studying neurobiology and human relationships with Dr. Daniel Siegel. This week she was telling me with glee about scientific data that shows how our brains are actually "wired for us to connect with one another."
I often marvel at the serendipitious relationships that grace my life. These connections are what Rabbi Lawrence Kushner calls "sacred stories of the ordinary." For example, I have met colleagues and clients, ostensibly referred to me for one reason or another, without either of us consciously knowing that there are invisible lines of connection between us that we could never have anticipated.
"Suppose there is something going on in the universe which is to ordinary, everyday reality as our unconscious is to our daily lives? Softly, but unmistakably guiding it. Most of the time, we are unaware of it. Yet, every now and then, on account of some ‘fluke,’ we are startled by the results of its presence. We realize we have been part of something with neither consciousness nor consent."
–from Invisible Lines of Connection
I think Rabbi Kushner is right on target when he describes this feeling as a startling presence, because so often I feel a sense of awe, gratitude and, yes, even love, in these sacred yet ordinary relationships. In a previous posting I wrote about the Kabbalistic prayer Yedid Nefesh: Knower of the Soul, and I am reminded of it again now as I write about the often inexplicable ways our souls seem to know each other.
This is a photo of me and my friend Stella. Stella is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, a spiritual director, an artist and an activist. We met at a spiritual directors' conference almost six years ago, and we had that immediate spiritual connection that Rabbi Kushner describes.
You might feel it with the person next to you on the plane, or the one in line behind you where you get your morning coffee. It might be with a client or a colleague, a teacher or a friend. It might be a single encounter, or it might be a relationship that last for much longer, even a lifetime.
Sometimes you feel it in your body, a physical sensation like your heart fluttering or the expansive feeling in your belly as you take a full deep breath. Sometimes it feels like pure, unmistakeable joy.
My colleague says we have these mirror cells in our brains, neurons that are navigating our souls to find one another. How can I help clear the path?