they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Martin Buber’s watershed 1923 book, Ich und Du (I and Thou), sought to describe the mystical communion between individuals, and between human individuals and God. For Buber, this is not an encounter that conveys practical, real-world, measurable benefits. The I/Thou encounter does not reduce stress, or make one a better, more moral person. Ironically, the I/Thou encounter is impossible without being in communion with someone else but nonetheless reveals the true self. It changes each participant – both God and human being – and brings them closer to the most radiant expression of their personality. Faith and religion, at their best, seek this communion.
There is a pervasive movement today that seeks spirituality in solitude – the ‘nones’ wish to keep their altruism pure and unsullied by the compromise that inevitably follows from participation in a faith community. But there is nothing particularly progressive or broadminded in the refusal to explore the Big Questions with others or the blanket rejection of all the world's wisdom traditions.