A Tale of Two Kisses


SOLOMON WRITES FOR the Bride these words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” Certainly, that is the desire of our hearts, that the Lord should kiss us so. Yet, as in a dream where everything is one’s own mind speaking, so in scripture, everything is God’s own word. And how our Lord cries out in love, “Let him, (that is, you, Son of Adam) let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” Do not be scandalized: we speak of Christ thirsting for us, and of how we can pain his heart. God speaks of being spurned by his beloved. Although he has no need in his perfection for any of this, he desires deeply the union for which he made us in his love. While any such action is possible only by grace, how do we kiss our heavenly beloved? Indeed we do it in prayer, but how deeply, how fervently?

In Star Trek: the Next Generation, Season 4, Episode 25, “In Theory”, (Original Airdate: 3 June 1991), a woman named Jenna, recently jilted, falls into a rebound relationship with an android. To be fair to the robot, whose name is Data, he really wants to be human – like Pinocchio. His programming shows that “falling in love” is something humans do, so he writes a subroutine in his programming to give this a try. Data asks all the men on the ship for input, developing his subroutine code. There are a number of humorous failures before, eventually, the young woman realizes she’s rebounding and moves on. But as they are having that last conversation she asks for a kiss, which he gives her. This conversation ensues:

DATA: With regard to romantic relationships, there is no real me. I am drawing upon various cultural and literary sources to help define my role.

JENNA: Kiss me.

(they kiss)

JENNA: What were you just thinking?

DATA: In that particular moment, I was reconfiguring the warp field parameters, analysing the collected works of Charles Dickens, calculating the maximum pressure I could safely apply to your lips, considering a new food supplement for Spot.

JENNA: I’m glad I was in there somewhere.

Retrieved on 28 Feb 2023

As one easily distracted in prayer, I most often kiss God like this. But it’s not just God. Any human conversation for me feels like this. I find myself wondering about the internet, or about social media. I find myself wishing this would stop. I go meta and accuse myself in my brain of doing stuff in my brain instead of listening. My late friend, Linda, called me out on this once. She could tell as I sat there that I was doing something else in my brain. Linda could tell I was hearing what was said, but I was not actually listening. I could respond, mostly because I had picked something and plotted my reply. Then my brain calmly waited until it was my turn to speak. To be honest, I assumed everyone did that since I had been doing it since childhood: seems to be the way my brain works. However, I do see it’s not optimal – a conversation is not like a chess game where one can plan miles and miles ahead. (I’ve learned this more in trying to acquire a second language. You spend forever doing translation in your head, plotting out words. But there are moments of actual conversation that go from rare, to a bit better.) Neither is prayer supposed to be this way, which is more than just a conversation, but rather a relationship.

Here’s another way to kiss. This comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s brilliant 1961 masterwork, Stranger in a Strange Land. In this story, a man who has been raised on Mars – his name is Michael Valentine – has just learned how to kiss and earthling women are amazed. Here Anne tells her friend, Jubal, what it’s like to be kissed by Michael. Jubal asks:

“In a moment. Anne, tell me something. What’s so special about the way that lad kisses?”

Anne looked dreamy and then dimpled. “You should have tried it when he invited you to.”

“I’m too old to change my ways. But I’m interested in everything about the boy. Is this actually something different, too?”

Anne pondered it. “Yes.”


“Mike gives a kiss his whole attention.”

“Oh, rats! I do myself. Or did.”

Anne shook her head. “No. Some men try to. I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job of it indeed. But they don’t really give kissing a woman their whole attention. They can’t No matter how hard they try, some parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus, maybe-Or how their chances are for making the gal-Or their own techniques in kissing-Or maybe worry about their jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Or something. Now Mike doesn’t have any technique . . . but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. Not anything. You’re his whole universe for that moment and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and he isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.”

She shivered. “A woman notices. It’s overwhelming.”

Retrieved on 28 Feb 2023

Imagine praying like that! Not “doing anything else. Not anything. You’re his whole universe for that moment and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and he isn’t going anywhere.” Distracted in prayer or God is your “whole universe for that moment”. Which sounds better?

A practice that has helped to refocus these images is using things like the Jesus Psalter and the Jesus Prayer. How do you say the same thing over and over and not mean it as a mantra? It can be easy because Jesus is, literally, right there with you. Or perhaps in a Holy Hour, too. You can find yourself actually talking to him, for a moment. And listening. God can give us the grace to desire him like this. We need only assent to it, to open our hearts like saints before us, to open our lives to him.

Ask him to give you prayer.

Here’s a song that describes the desire to pray like this. Turn on the CC function to see the translation. Give me prayer.

So give me one good prayer
that will open for me all the gates of heaven
give me one sincere word
that will leave me breathless
i want to hang by a thread of hair in the middle of the sea
shouting will all my strength
give me one good prayer
that will open for me all the gates of heaven
give me one sincere word
that will leave me breathless
i want to be as an animal that roars in the forest all night long
master of the Universe
why have you fallen asleep
save me…

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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