Thursday, April 23, 2009


“i wonder if people i've just met sometimes "know" me better than those i've been around a really long time.”

I posted the above status on Facebook this afternoon. It is a thought I have been pondering since returning last night from a week in the heart of Texas. My main intent for the trip was to attend the Spiritual Director’s International conference and I ended up adding time to spend with a wide range of family and friends. The range included those who have known me my whole life, a college roommate dating back to the 70’s, and friends who I met 20 years ago upon arrival in Seattle.

My hope is to have some time to debrief on the SDI conference which was wonderful on multiple levels, but for today I continue to consider the beginning statement. “i wonder if people i've just met sometimes "know" me better than those i've been around a really long time.” These words arose as I looked back over the past week which was filled with many wonderful conversations and lots of reminiscences. The most memorable moment, however, occurred with a woman I met at the conference, spent no more than two hours with and very likely will not encounter again in this life.

It was one of those moments where I absolutely knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had looked into another’s soul and she into mine. Words cannot adequately describe, but my life has been indelibly marked by that encounter.

It leaves me knowing there is a Presence greater than I - One who delivers surprises when we least expect. I also wonder about the loneliness that can be felt when those who are supposed to "know" me seem to not really see me. I ponder how I might, too, be blind. Lots of curious questions mixed with contentment and gratitude for the moments that just are…for the God that is…for the person I am and the new ways I see myself each day.

I’ve missed our conversations here and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Peace and blessings!


Anonymous said...

I think a stranger can know you better because a stranger can see you very clearly as you are in this moment without any preconceived notions of who they think you should be or have always know you to be. Stangers, some strangers anyway, look at YOU.

They may well bring out something in you that family or long term friends either don't bring out or have seen so often that they not longer notice.

People who have known you for a very long time don't expect you to ever change. Oh, that might say they do - but do they really?

And when you inevitably do change those closest to you have a really hard time seeing the change. To someone you see every day you always are the person they've always known. They're comfortable with this version of you. To accept you might actually change and be a bit different is rather unsettling for them.

The old joke of the husband who doesn't notice the new hairstyle or new dress isn't actually a joke - but terribly true. It is a scientific fact that your eye will edit what you see all the time - will actually not notice it anymore. Ever proof read your own work? Your eye will fill in what you know you meant even though that not be what is written on the page? Kinda like that.

I know people who knew me for years and just couldn't see how I'd grown and changed. I was always that person they first knew - even though I'd moved on from there long before. Yet someone I would meet for the first time would see someone else - and I've even had one remark how these others clearly didn't see the same person they saw.

Yes, a stranger can know you better. They see you more clearly without the veils of time and history.

Barbara said...

What differenceayearmakes says is so true. We can become a script to those who have known us a long time. And some people have the grace, the God-given gift, of insight. Would that we all could begin again anew each day with every relationship. I can't help reminded of the Benedictine Rule that says "Never give a hollow greeting of peace."

roxanne s. sukhan said...

Maybe this has to do with the fact that, the more we see someone, the less we see them.

Sue said...

I think often too those close to us have an unconscious desire for us NOT to change, because they have categorised us so much, and we them.

Here's to fresh eyes and chance encounters into others' souls. Wunderbar :)

Re Facebook. I am jack of Facebook. I feel so restricted there. I am pondering whether to go out with a bang and delete my account (actually you can't, you can only suspend it), but have like a week of ridiculous status updates like "Sue is trying to decide whether to masturbate or do the dishes" and "Sue has just cleaned the grouting with a toothbrush." :)

Tess said...

You pose an interesting "wondering", and I think others here are right, there's an over-familiarity with those we spend a lot of time with.

I think there's something else, as well, which is context. There's an intensity to the sort of conferences, retreats etc that we take part in. In the day-to-day world there are questions about how to pay the bills, what to have for dinner, what's up with the kids and so on. Real conversations and connections can get lost under these practicalities.

I suspect that being away allows us to cut through the small talk and make those intense connections.

I'm so pleased you had that experience.

Kayce aka lucy said...

you ladies are the reason i keep coming back to this space.

rebecca--thank you for this eloquent summation. did i perhaps tap into something for you too?

i must say my dear husband does indeed try to keep up with me although it has taken many years and much therapy to help train each other to see and acknowledge. he is one of my best supporters in personal growth and still he often fails to notice my new hair style...go figure :-)

barbara--"We can become a script". so very true. this made me wonder, too, where i become a script to my own self. thank you for your insight and for sharing the benedictine rule. fabulous words!

tinkerbell--do we then become invisible? sad to consider!

sue--it's so much simpler if we can just read the script like barbara described rather than learning new lines.

i keep it pretty basic at facebook myself. although i have reconnected with people i would never have imagined. and i hold no illusions there that anyone will really "see" me.

tess--thanks for the great reminder on context. so very true. i think, too, sometimes there can be an odd safety factor when we know we may not see people again. who cares what they might think if we don't have to face them everyday?

it is, however, those brief moments that are the biggest reminders of God's grace.