To Be Human Means To Be Called To Interpersonal Communion

Borrowing a line from John Paul II, I offer here two more quotations which shed light on this matter. Could it be that the most pressing need of our time was simply to surrender the self to the persons and community God gives us? But what about starting this institute here, or this journal there, or serving this project over that way? Might roots and stability be a luxury this age can ill afford?

No man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do, and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others.
--Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Paragraph 48.

And from Wendell Berry whose essays and fiction paint what depth human life can have--if surrendered to its communities of blood, place, work, and thought.

A letter from Burley Coulter to his nephew Nathan, 25 March 1945
. . . Half a hundred years I've been alive. And it's a mystery where they've gone. I used to think that when I got to be a man I'd do what I pleased. And what I aimed to please to do was hunt and fish, and breed as far and wide as a tomcat. But there's a great many pretty girls that I've gone by, and a lot of good hunting nights, and a lot of fishing weather. It has happened that that wasn't so much what I was called to as I thought. What it has been, I reckon you would say, is love, for Jarrat and you boys. I realize now that that if my calling hasn't been that, I haven't had one. When I die there won't be much around here that anybody can point to and say "Burley Coulter done that." There's not any wheeling and dealing of mine that anybody'll remember. But for me, when I think of my life I have to think of it with Jarrat's and yours and Tom's. And even if there is a lot I've let go by, I don't say I ain't been blessed.
--Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth (revised, San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983), 153-154.



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