13.11.13

Connection cravings




I crave connection and my love language is probably 'conversation' - conversation with anyone really and God and again anyone who will turn-take their stories with me.

I have sometimes been misunderstood for social networking. I remember a fellow priest once appalled, imagining I would be writing here about everyday ministry encounters, maybe even leaking confidentialities. No way!

I have just listened to a radio program about blogging and how for many it is now their way of life and living; blogs that are literally generating people's salaries and the rest! Lifestyles are being supported as revenue is generated to such an extent that the blogger finds themselves able to give up the day-job. Not likely and not a hope I have.

I wonder to what we can compare this new digital conversing, this monologue-ing, this splurging into space for anonymous consumption and often little comment in the public domain now, because blog posts travel to Facebook. Facebook then syphons the content to the few, if controls are in place and  some people are blocked, others selected and others still, on restricted lists accessing only the occasional family photo or two, or those public updates that are really rather uncontroversial and ordinary. Only the few therefore comment.

And so what are we doing? Are we verbal diarrhoeaists? Are we speaking into empty space in some kind of self-hypnotising, cathartic kind of a way, fooling ourselves that people might resonate with our stuff.

I remember making a friend once, and when I said to her: "Whatever you go through in life, someone else, or even a few, have probably gone through it too..." she finished my sentence with the words, "Yes, and written a map."

I had never taken it that far. I had only ever been convinced by the shared experience, the feeling that aloneness in this or that was the impossibility I suspected it to be, even because if Maths had managed to teach me anything, it was that there was a law of probability, and for me the Maths on one-off experiences was that they were unlikely. To think though that there were people who had been there, and then drawn maps for others, was even more comforting than my reliance on others, just others - others going through the same stuff.

So writing is necessary.

In fact, for some, for me and for many I know, it is breath-stuff, ache stuff, need!

Two of my other close friends write with labour pains too, write to release and create, to deal with, work through and find answers.

I sat with a friend today who would have taken many different avenues and pathways with words to express what she wanted to say, which because conversation is an art of shared turn-taking, would have taken a long time to articulate, with interruptions and breaks along the way. Leaving me alone for five minutes with her writing on an I-pad, I was able to absorb and digest her thought-world, feelings and agonisings all in one go, to then look up at her face with a new and revitalised sense of knowing.

Jesus talks in John 17 about oneness, about the dwelling and abiding, about the closeness closer than the closest closeness, in which the I/Thou Buber gap disappears just for a moment...no, Jesus didn't say that, Buber talked about that, but there is in the mystic, that sense sometimes of oneness with God, with other people, with nature, if you are wired like St Francis of Assisi, and mystical Christianity is so misunderstood and walked into alone, and when vulnerable, can leave you in some strange places where earth needs to be found again and groundedness gained. But it is worth the pain for the journey, worth the embarrassment and misunderstandings for the openings.

Mystical Christianity is perhaps a form of spiritual walk and belief that the other world religions and faith-practices can for a moment come to identify with - it is about transcendence and yet it propels you into pragmatism.
Fuel for the fire.
Infillings for the outpourings.
In moments of connection with God, with others and with the created world, time takes on a new dimension, is more easily understood as eternal and these moments of the numinous are those that I am beginning to understand through connections and cravings.

And so conversation and prayer and writing can begin to become much the same thing and you don't compartmentalise each so much and then the edges of the one blur with the edges of another, and I suggested to my friend today that her writing is prayer.

.... and so in craving connection there are those things that human beings do - serve one another, make love, write, pray, worship.... each to be carefully discerned, if you're with me, and certainly not all to be done at once and some for the monogamous context only. All these things breathe life, transcend the usual, take you higher, shoot you through with poetry, if you let them. This creating through receiving and giving out.

Connection cravings take people searching and when connection has been known, it is craved again until found again. And I guess we all find it in different places.

With a friend today we discovered some shared places: prayer (especially of the Come Holy Spirit variety), writing, conversation and for me, particularly, books, and as I spoke with her, I realised why the leaning book-tower of Pisa by my bed is there, because each of those is an unfinished book, promising a connection that wasn't delivered, and so it was abandoned and perhaps then I am adulterous when it comes to books. But I found yesterday a book that is helping, it's connecting and my happiness-o-metre just went soaring.

It's by Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, and Mary Albert Darling, associate professor of communication at Spring Arbor University. They explore mystical spirituality, evangelism, and justice. Campolo explores mystical experience: insights, I-thou relationships, heightened awareness, conversion experiences, and breakthrough experiences. His plea is that this experiential relationship with God translates into action so that institutionalised religion is challenged, the sufferings of others are entered onto, the kingdom, as God would have it here on earth, is advanced.

Mary Albert Darling challenges Christians to a series of spiritual practices, to press in to the experiential and the mystical, to become more transformed into the likeness of Christ so that love and oneness with others and with God might develop.

Tomorrow I go away for two days to pray (Come Holy Spirit variety) and worship and 'be' and so the fire gets fuelled, the infillings occur for the outpourings, time will do strange things and something of the stuff Campolo describes is waiting for me. It is always there but I can centre and receive and listen and invest and wait and ask and connect and the craving will lessen for 48 hours and the Romans 8 groanings will be alleviated and All will be well because all manner of things will be well for a while ....

and I will read and write a little.

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