Finding common ground

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”  ~C.S. Lewis

I spent some time with a newer friend today and had the pleasure of discovering several things that we share in common, from interests, to authors we enjoy, to patterns of reacting, to writing styles. It reminded me of just how powerful it is to discover a point of commonality with another person, a discovery that becomes more powerful the more rare the point of commonality is.

These moments of connection remind us that we are not alone. They bring reassurance that all of our quirks fall within the natural variety that makes up the human race, and that we are not broken or defective for being as we are. They bring the pleasure of finding someone to share our interests, hobbies, and activities with who will value them as we do. These moments whisper the reassurance that we belong to those corners of our souls that fear that we are forever on the outside.

I remember the way my friend Vicki used to make a point of finding something in common with every person she met as a means of creating a relationship with them. When I was first getting to know her and she told me about this practice of hers, I dismissed it as being a bit gimmicky. But the longer I knew her, the more I recognized that it was a genuine means of building connection for her. She never doubted that she could find something in common (no matter how small) with each person because she was a firm believer that we are all connected.

I still don’t have the generosity she did to seek that means of connection with every person I meet, but I have found that I notice commonalities much more readily than I used to. Over the years, I have become increasingly aware of how much more I share in common with others (just by virtue of being human) than there are differences between us—no matter how large those differences may seem.

And the more my eye becomes adjusted to seeing others in terms of those commonalities, the harder it is to divide the world neatly into categories of “us” and “them.” It all blurs into one big “us.” An “us” that pulls me in as much as it encircles them.

And this is holy—this awareness of connection, this discovery of commonalities, this fostering of greater unity—it’s all holy work.

I still have miles to go to reach the point where Vicki was in her radical adoption of this practice, but I am still learning from her example all these years later. My eye is getting better at seeing those points of commonality and holding fast to them, even if I am not yet as skilled (or courageous) in sharing them openly.

And I’m especially celebrating the special gift of friendships that grow beyond those initial points of connection as deeper and richer veins of commonalities are discovered. These, too, are holy in a very special way. I am blessed to have such riches in my life.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.