The Limits of Solitude: Faith Matters, Part Seven

Tori and I had formed a sacred connection, an I-thou relationship. It wasn't the spirituality of solitude that I'd experienced in the Faroe Islands — it was a spirituality of a completely different order. Despite the apparent, surface divide between us, we were bound by a faith tradition anchored in dialogue rather than dogma; by an iconoclastic impulse to overturn decorum in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom; by an embrace of pluralism and a commitment to community, even if some of our particular views (and our respective levels of commitment) differed in significant ways.

It was strange for me to feel that my soul was being nourished, not by nature, but by another human being. It was new and refreshing. And it was less lonely.

Since my experience with Tori, I have tried to understand "Torah" in its broadest sense, as an impassioned and communal search for meaning and purpose. I have attempted to become more tolerant and open, not only to divergent opinions, but also to the very presence of other people on my spiritual path — to see them, not as threats to my privacy, but as assets to my inner development. When I succeed, and it is not easy, I am often reminded of a verse from Pirke Avot, a teaching that says far more about relationships than about mountaintops or oceans: "When two sit together and exchange words of Torah, then the divine presence dwells with them." (Avot 3:3)

Faith Matters Series:

In the Dark Forest

The Lure of Leaving Early

Forgetting Yourself

The Challenge and Joy of Commitment

A Portrait of the Rabbi as a Young Man

The Spirituality of Storm Chasing

9/9/2015 4:00:00 AM