Understanding, and acting upon, one of our most basic desires

In her 2010 talk about vulnerability, TED Talk Lecturer, Brene Brown speaks beautifully about a basic human desire. She says we are hard wired to be in relationship with others, to be connected to other human beings. I believe this is true.

I believe that we long to be connected to each other, to know and be known. There is something more for me, however. I also believe that we are hard wired to seek connection to the Divine and that deep within every one of us is the desire to be in relationship with something or someone greater than our human potential, something or someone bigger than ourselves.

Certainly, this would explain why people go to church or to synagogue or practice meditation in Sangha gatherings; but I think our desire is demonstrated in other ways as well. I think this is also the reason we make art, write poetry, and seek beauty in creation. We want to be in relationship with other humans, with animals, with nature; but I also think we are in search of that relationship with the Divine.

I recall reading a story of a rabbi whose son had started going to the woods every day. The rabbi, concerned for his son’s safety, decided to ask him about it. He wanted to know what was calling his boy out into the wild. When asked, the young child simply answered that he was going to find God. This pleased but also baffled the rabbi. “That’s great,” the father replied. “It’s wonderful that you are searching for God; but don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” To which the boy responded, “Yes, but I am not.”

We are changed by the events in a day. We are affected by the violence we read about in the news, the divisions cited within our society, the ways we are separated from each other. We don’t always know how to find God, how to search; and we often feel as if we are unable to locate God. Sometimes only a walk in the woods will help us find what or who it is we seek.

If the sacred texts of the Christian faith are examined then God is the same as love, reminding us therefore that when we love we are connecting to that Divine Being. When we love we are in a relationship with God. When we open our hearts and allow the experience of love to happen, to be felt, to change us, soften us, then we find what or rather who it is we seek.

There are those who want us to believe we are hard wired to be afraid of others, to hate what we don’t understand, to seek separation, alienation, and isolation. If we can look beneath those calls of fear, however, I believe we will find what we all possess, that innate desire to be connected to each other and to the Divine, that deeply wired inclination to love.

Lynne Hinton is a minister and author: