One is the loneliest number there will ever be. And lonely is “the saddest experience you’ll ever know.” Thus says Three Dog Night. We desperately need to touch and be touched, hear and be heard, know and be known, listen and talk about everything, live in a safe place. But the worldly weak church, the “our” world, barely squeezes into our break neck schedules and “ I” world technologies.
We think there is something wrong with us if we need others. We do not think this need is expressive of the world as it was created, but is a sign of weakness. Not only that if a male or female couple are seen enjoying time together, being the good Freudians that we are, we think their relationship must be about sex. Two men or women together means they are gay or lesbian, not that they just might be friends.
Our isolating madness has no sense of our created interpenetration with God and humans. The lonely experience a “ suffering sense of separation,” of hearts, minds and bodies. Loneliness hurts us. It is the pain we cannot word-so we ache. We “medicate” it. We call the pain “it.” “It” is loneliness. It is a desperate, fatal condition, masked by a thousand distractions.
We were born persons-in-community. We were born intimately engaged with a person we called Mom. We had a different dna than did Mom, but the unborn child would not be what he/she is without Mom and Mom would not be Mom had she not experienced the interpenetration of her body-soul with Dad. This is just the way the world was created. So why or how did we lose it?
Clearly loneliness is other than solitude-a sense of being-with-God even in our aloneness and a joyful sense of our own personhood as we are with others. Solitude celebrates aloneness as a rhythm; Solitude and community, rhythmically back and forth. Solitude and real community is an experience of our interpenetration with God and others. Praying alone and confessing sins to each other are rhythms of redeemed reality.
Sounds and music are the clearest illustration of the interpenetration of things. Sounds exist quite literally within other sounds. A single note on the piano is “indwelled” by its overtones, and at the same time sounds through these overtones. In a chord, each sound provides a setting for every other, and in a melody line each note, like a word or a poem, falls silent to make room for the next.
When we sing, we form a community of sound as each singer sings through others, literally vibrating the flesh of the singer’s nearest neighbors. Music is perhaps our most elaborate and most lovely clue to the nature of the universe and our hopes for human community. It is no wonder that we love to praise God together-“singing to one another, making melodies to God in our hearts. “It is a moment of profound interpenetration with God and people.
If this is the way the world is we should adopt a life that conforms to its pattern. Others indwell our lives; therefore we ought to open up our lives to them. “We are literally members one of another.” We indwell the lives of others; therefore we ought to see others not as obstacles to our schedules and goals but as potential homes in which we can dwell together. If the Father, Son and Spirit interpenetrate within each other in love together eternally and have now pulled us into this world of mutual interpenetration then we are called to live worshipfully, hospitably, welcoming, inviting, coming alongside each other for a lifetime-all done around the Table of the Lord. The world, our little worlds, only make sense when we recognize and embody this recurrent pattern on an every day basis.
The Lord’s covenant making interpenetrating love purposes to spread throughout His body so that each member has multiple friendships of depth and intimacy. Because we are bound together by Jesus “You are mine and I am yours.” “I love you because Christ has made you mine.” Friends forever. No matter what!
(See Peter Leithart, Traces of the Trinity)