Friday, November 21, 2008

presence [don't read this b/c it's really long]

Sometimes I'll be studying in our office/library room and my lovely Sara will call from the living room, "Come in here with me." So, of course, I proceed to move my procrastination down the hall to be with her.

She sits on the love seat and I might be on the couch. Perhaps she has the computer and I have a couple of books. Regardless of the precise circumstances, 25-30 minutes could pass without a word spoken between us.

What's the deal with this? Why did I get up from the ideal place to study [the study!] to move into the living room with Sara? The answer is clear, but complex. I love her. But doesn't love mean communication, words, information exchange, affection exchange, etc? Yes, but there is something more there.

Job's three friends [Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar] were good friends when they sat with him and didn't say a word. They began to show themselves morons when they opened their mouths.

Let's chase Derrida's dog for a second. Do words have meaning? For example, what is the meaning of "meaning"? You understood those questions. Therefore they must have some sort of meaning. Why does the certain arrangement of letters call you to action and then an arrangement of letters such as "pasygerzysod" have absolutely no significance to you?

I bet if your 16-month old girl said "pasygerzysod" to you that it would mean something. Why though? I don't exactly know what Derrida would say about this, but it's safe to say that words only have meaning when they are nestled in a context. That context only has meaning [denotation or connotation] because of relationships - human relationships.

Some have said that 93% of communication is non-verbal. That seems obscenely high to me. Others say 70% and few even say that 55% is a safer estimate. Still! - that means that over half of what you're saying you're not really saying!

Now let me feebly attempt to sift all of this gibberish into a point. Why does my wife want me to sit in the room with her? Why were Job's friends only good friends when they kept their fat mouths shut? Why do we question whether or not words have meaning? Why do I say so much without saying anything? Here's the skinny:

There is a design in the human psyche, soul, and spirit that necessitates relationship. But this is not "relationship" in a vague sense. This relationship must include presence. My wife knows that we are married from the other room. She's got some shiny rocks on her left hand to remind her. But she wants my being to be there. Job knew his friends were his friends when they were far away. But he had to sense their nearness [Job 2.11-13]. We want to communicate and we want to be communicated to. Presence does this. I'm not saying it does it fully. But presence means relationship and presence is communication.

Perhaps this is why He is Emmanuel. This is why YHWH led them by cloud and fire. This is why He gave the Tabernacle. This is why He came. This is why He has given us His Spirit. And this is why He will be with us until the end of the age.


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

My wife and I bought a little house a year and a half ago. She struggled for several months because suddenly we weren't always in the same room as in the apartment, even though in the house I am just a few feet away.

jim thompson said...

same deal with me, bro :)

Pecos Brad said...

I hear you loud and clear. You finally arranged my jumbled thoughts on this subject. Sometimes it's important just to be there, and sometimes it's more important to the wives than to us. thanks for the reminder.