Thursday, March 18, 2010

Place Shapes Us

Place shapes us.

There are passing-through places, and settling-places.

Consider the airport, a classic passing-through space, a space between spaces. We are required to be there long before our flight. And so we kill time, distracting ourselves browsing the duty free shops. We don’t want to be there: in our mind we are somewhere else, either the place we came from (home) or the place we are going to (work, holiday). We are there, but we are not present where we are.

The more passing-through places we pass through, the harder it becomes to experience presence. Anywhere.

Consider social networking sites. I am in my study. I am alone. And yet, just there, in the corner of the room, some 500 friends are passing through on Facebook. Now, I am not anti-Facebook. Social networking has some positives. But it has some negatives too.

Here I am, alone, but distracted from being present. And so it becomes harder for me to have a conversation with God, to settle myself enough in his presence to hear his voice.

The dining-room table is a settled place, surrounded by passing-through space (the flow into the kitchen, the living-room, my study). We have been conditioned by the pull of the passing-through space. I am at the table with my family, the ‘re-connecting’ point in the day where we gather over food and can share our days, the good and the bad. But the pull – seeing as I have to get up from the table to take the plates to the kitchen, and bring back the dessert, I might as well check Facebook while I pass...

It takes pioneer discipline

to win back the settling-spaces
we need in order to re-build authentic community.

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