That question threw me a little at lunch.
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that technically, we were out discussing business, and had, in fact, been discussing some rather technical things.
Or maybe it threw me because my relationship with my companion is in that early period where a friendship is starting to blossom but it’s not getting too personal, and perhaps this is too intimate a question.
I don’t think so….I think what threw me is that I answered love immediately, without thinking about it or even trying to formulate an explanation. It’s plain and simple. Love wins every time.
My friend was surprised. I think she was expecting me to dance around the question a bit, but my response was so immediate and uttered with such conviction that we both just sat looking at each other until she asked for clarification.
I didn’t think it needed clarification, but she seemed intent on wanting to have the conversation, and posed a follow up question about the need for money to take care of loved ones. Ah, well, yes, that’s a necessity, but not really the same as the first question, now is it?
I discovered that her question had less to do with priorities in a hypothetical discussion and more to do with figuring out how to balance our physical needs (and, yes, our desires) to make things good for those we love…whatever that good is, whether it is a nutritious meal or clothes or some spontaneous or frivolous expense to bring a moment of joy.
We don’t need a lot of money for that, but it sure helps.
Our conversation didn’t change my response. And frankly, I never got the sense that she thought money was more important. In fact, it broadened my understanding of it because of something else she said in the course of our conversation. She recognized that there wasn’t going to be a nice neat answer to her question, but that she found a great sense of relief in knowing that I didn’t have any answers either.
Ha. Wait a minute….
If you know me, you know I have plenty of questions and generally, few answers, so I can’t say I was offended, but she was onto something. Something I think I know quite naturally because of my faith and upbringing and that she was appreciating in the moment: namely, that we are social creatures and we need each other, not just for the obvious tribal needs such as protection or hunting or whatever some dead anthropologists said, but because we belong in community.
She took comfort in knowing she wasn’t alone in her fears. None of us should feel that way, but I know we sometimes do, at least I do. I was wracking my brain for some appropriately well-known scripture commonly quoted in the Bible Belt, but I kept coming back to Church teachings on community and our interdependence as members of the human family. If I’d had the Catechism of the Catholic Church in my car I would have pulled it out to quote directly from it (um…yes, I’m sure there’s an app for that). Still, I’m fairly certain I got the gist of it okay. She seemed content.
And I’m certain the message was meant as much for me, as it was for her.