I managed to see my older brother before I left Nelson. Alistair is a ship's engineer and he arrived home from a trip just as I was leaving. Despite pressure of time we did manage a good conversation on two topics. Firstly motorcycles. He showed me photos of the 1951 Ariel Square Four he's just acquired and a brochure for the brand new KTM he's about to acquire. He has, after all, only 5 bikes in his garage at the moment, so stocks are getting a bit low. There is no need to look up Wikipedia on the subject of motorbikes when Alistair is around. If it has two wheels he's probably ridden one, he's possibly owned one, he might even have pulled one to bits. I have been thinking of getting another bike myself, purely as a selfless ecological response to the issue of peak oil, you understand, and wanted his opinion. A classic BSA Lightning ( solid investment value, expect only 40,000km between overhauls, watch the crankcase bearings in the early ones, be prepared to tinker ) or a modern Triumph Bonneville (solid, should run at least 200,000km if serviced properly, smooth engine, stable, easy to acquire low mileage examples from guys now over their mid life crises ). It's a helpful thing to have access to someone with knowledge
We also talked about prostates. He's recently had the same investigations as me, although his were thankfully clear. It was not a conversation many people would have wanted to eavesdrop on but I found it informative and comforting. Again, it was helpful to share knowledge, although in this case a different sort of knowledge: not just facts and figures so much as an understanding which comes from facing the same fears, experiencing the same discomforts and weighing the same options. He lives a long way away, and we only managed a couple of hours, but I feel infinitely less alone because of that short time.
Which is, why community is as great a factor in our spiritual and psychological formation as anything we have going on inside us. Why the solid rock on which we build is not so much our knowledge as our behaviour - that is, our relationships.
The presence of one who knows - who really knows - is the meaning of the incarnation. Emmanuel, God WITH us. Jesus told Peter that an understanding of this is the rock on which the church is founded.