If you stop to think about it these can be bonding moments between individuals who often feel separated from each other but maybe don’t want to be. I suppose there are a few that DO want to be separated, but many of us don’t because we are relational people. Consider the lonely commuter who sees the same person every day and wonders about them when they’re not there one day. Or the librarian and myself, talking about the weather. In those moments when we have nothing else to say but we want to connect, and so we reach for our common experiences. Don’t we get disappointed when someone doesn’t have the same experience as we do? Yes! I think it is because we yearn to connect with each other.
And this may sometimes be the issue between “liberals” and “conservatives”. Finding another young person who is active in their faith can be uncommon. So it’s exciting at first to meet another young Catholic! But then we may find out we are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of our beliefs and practices. Among many, many things, I think we are disappointed that we won’t be able to connect with them. We may have had similar experiences growing up, but sometimes we are struggling with the here and now. And how we process that is often with other people who have similar experiences. It can be disappointing then to get your hopes up and then realize the person won’t understand your struggle (and hopefully won’t dismiss it because of their beliefs). And in a culture where we seem out of place due to secularism or strong Christian evangelical spirituality, it’s nice to connect with others about those things we hold in common; not just the struggles we share but the passions and hopes we have. This is why I love my faith sharing group here in Chicago so much. In a world where I am alone, it seems I’m not with them.