Recently I had the privilege of attending a pre-showing of the movie “A Hidden Life.” To say that I was profoundly affected would be an understatement. I sense that there will be other changes occurring in my life as I continue to reflect on the quiet faith and conviction of an Austrian farmer, yet there is one that I feel I must make in the new year.
That change is to leave Facebook, at least the public, manually posting part. (My PeaceGrooves and Lyndaker Inlay pages will update automatically when I post to my blogs for now I think, but I will not be maintaining them or overally obsessing about visits, comments, etc).
I have appreciated connecting and re-connecting with many folks I have known over the years. I have been encouraged by comments and likes for various posts or endeavors I have shared.
Yet I have also been frustrated by the tendency for folks to engage in online discussions that are really not very productive or to present opinions that they otherwise would not dare to do so face to face. In other words, there seems to be a greater appreciation of the relationship, lack of ego as it were, when one does not have the distance the internet provides. There is also an illusion of it being a safe place to share anything when the reality is, it is anything but.
There is a moment near the end of the first Highlander movie when the main character states that with his new powers, if he is quiet, he can hear the thoughts of everyone in the world. As much as I would love to, I can’t, nor can I keep up with the lives of my friends on Facebook. I’m not the Highlander. Nor am I God. I cannot nor should I strive to be omnipresent. And it can be overwhelming at times looking into the rather strange window that persons choose to present on FB. As much as I feel I have something to share too, there is quite a cacophony out there, with a plethora of voices competing to be heard, and so, as difficult as it may be, I am going to remove one voice, my own, from the noise.
I began by limiting the notifications I received, even at the cost of missing birthdays. Still I found myself succumbing to the temptation to visit FB. I continue to be in the process of limiting all of my notifications, because I am realizing that my everyday life is constantly being interrupted and my ability to remain attentive is subverted by the distractions. I have yet to find a notification, however important, that fits the definition of “the one necessary thing.” I must ask myself if I am growing more receptive to the still small voice that calls me from my cave (internet cafe?) or less so as a result.
The older I get, the more I realize that I am on borrowed time, and there is no substitute for real rather than virtual interactions with people. If I am honest with myself I have fallen into the illusion of connection that FB presents. I must also confess that I have sought out validation based on responses or lack thereof to my posts. And I must ask myself if my online presence is truly Christlike or is it quite frankly about feeding my ego?
I must admit that I spend way too much time online. Am I happier as a result? I don’t think so. I also wonder if some of my discontentment is fostered by my scrolling through FB posts. I did see a survey awhile back that stated that folks who left FB were less informed, but happier. Am I the only one obsessed with information, suffering within the paradox of sensory overload yet never getting enough? And do I really want to keep giving away pieces of myself and my loved ones to the internet giants?
Part of this is about taking my life back. Like Pavlov’s dog, I have been well trained. And similarily, no matter how much I salivate, the bell, however loud, is no substitute for real food.
I’m not withdrawing from the world. Rather I hope to be more fully engaged in the world….the real one. I seek less face-time or Face-book, and more face to face. I invite anyone to visit or give me a call. My line and door will always be open.
Or feel free to comment here or zip me an email. I do intend to continue to explore contemplative writing as long as it does not feed the ego and remains prayer, which requires much practice. To that end, I have found blogging quite helpful. Again I welcome your responses and reflections here now and for future posts.
I hope to do more longer length writing. Perhaps on paper like I used to and not so much on the screen. I’ll keep working with my hands. I’ll still have an online presence I think but I want to be fully open to the possibility that perhaps I should have none.
Other changes are in the wind I think as I continue to reflect on what it means to live A (more) Hidden Life.
The gift of depression is compassion. I look in the mirror everyday and know that I am broken.
Elegiac tells me that I should stay there, captured by this narcissistic reflection.
Yet to do so is to miss the truth that I see through a glass dimly, that “now I only see in part, then I will see in full.”
And that often my reflection as seen through the lens of depression is not how God sees me.
Knowing that I am broken can incapacitate me.
Or it can serve as the humble catalyst for me to show grace and mercy, compassion and gentleness, and above all, patience, to others.
Tonight, I will serve a meal to women whose lives have been upended in ways that leave me breathless. They are broken like me. Yet they are strong, so strong.
They are always gracious, kind, and encouraging and I always leave feeling like I have received more than I have given.
And for the briefest of moments, I do not feel the weight of Elegiac and Lethargy, my everpresent twins, upon my shoulders.
These Tales of Kindness From the World Cup Are the Best Examples of Humanity at its Finest!
what is this urge
to get ahead
rush to reach
on the island
many traffic lights
are still out
from the hurricane
so at these
seems to be
a culture of
even when another
has the right
me go first
me to do
to look out
i feel the old
pull to make
sure i get my
place in line
take my foot
off the gas
take a deep
that what is fair
is not always
the same as
For six decades, ‘the man with the golden arm’ donated blood — and saved 2.4 million babies – The Washington Post
Mr. Harrison is an example to all of us.
Each day you and I have the opportunity to help someone. As Christians in particular who have received the ultimate gift, the least we can do is be a conduit for Love.
Who knows? Perhaps we might even save a life.
He cannot remember when he first noticed her.
Perhaps it was a glint of the morning sunshine on her auburn hair as she walked past the house that caused him to look up from the desk where he was writing. He would often glance out the window to gather his thoughts, knowing from experience that the brief respite could alleviate a particularly bad case of writer’s block. That morning he happened to look up and there she was.
After a while he began to realize that she made this journey every morning at the same time and so he began to look for her. He noticed other things as well. She walked in a slow, methodical way, head down, thinking hard. She was young, but walked bent over like someone much older as if weighed down by a great burden, stepping forward up the hill as if to leave something behind.
Later he made it a habit to take his morning coffee out to the bench in the front garden so he could be there when she would pass by. The solitary life had made him awkward around others but his heart remained soft. Like the bees beginning to gather around the crocuses, she drew him.
She began to notice him sitting there and though her intial glance was brief, in her eyes, he glimpsed a deep sadness. He had never been a courageous sort, preferring to explore the emotions of others within the confines of pen and paper. The pain he saw within her almost drove him back inside where he could safely leave her to her mourning. Yet he remained.
As spring came, the front garden began to bloom and so he would leave his coffee on the bench, move closer to where she walked on the sidewalk, and begin to tend the garden. He would prune the roses or weed or mulch or plant bulbs. He had always preferred perennials over annuals. His memory being what it was, he could never remember what he had planted or where. So each spring brought him a host of lovely surprises.
His favorites were the daylilies even though they seemed to have begun to take over all of the other flowers in his garden. He was constantly thinning them out. Which kept him in the garden near where she would walk.
Their interactions had changed now so that they would give each other a brief nod and say good morning. Some days he wondered if there was something he could say or do to ease the sadness that seemed to hover around her. Somehow he knew these walks held a meaning for her that he would never completely understand and so he tried to be content with their simple interactions and his small part in her morning routine.
There was one daylily that he was particularly fond of. Every spring he looked forward to its blooming, the flowers’ bright mix of gold and white with a splash of scarlet. This season it seemed to be more beautiful than usual. The dew of the morning lay like soft diamonds upon its surface and he marveled again at how such beauty could break forth from the frozen ground of winter in the continuing cycle of renewal and life.
Bending low in the garden one morning, he heard her footsteps upon the walk and glanced up to give her his typical good morning. She replied in turn, softly as she always did, the sadness still residing there within her dark eyes. Then she was past him and heading up the hill.
Suddenly, he was grasping his shears, clipping a bloom of the daylily, calling to her as he rushed after her.
She stopped, her back to him, waiting, and then slowly she turned. He stood before her somewhat awkwardly, the lily in his hand, holding it out to her.
Here, he said, this is for you.
Her eyes became bright with unshed tears and a light he had not seen before began to shine from their depths. Then with a shy smile, the first he had seen upon her face, she reached out her hand and took the flower from him. She turned without a word and continued up the hill, leaving him standing alone, the shears trembling in his hand.
The next morning she did not come by. Or the next. Or the day after that. After a week with no sighting of her, he began to wonder if he had offended her, if somehow his offering of the flower to her had crossed a line, that he should not have let her know he knew that she was in pain.
The next morning, he took his coffee out to the bench to find a small hand bound journal sitting there, the daylily pressed and beautifully woven into the cover. Opening the journal to the first page, he saw two words; Thank you.
He held the journal in his hands, relieved that even in his awkward attempts at kindness she had understood.
Then as he turned to go back inside, he paused at the sound of her footsteps coming up the hill.
to be so unkind ~
is your primary response ~
simply proves my point
This has been years in the making, and it is not the first time that those with walled up hearts have come to power, hiding behind masks of righteous indignation which are only thin disguises for hate.
This must be the last time. There is too much at stake. We must prepare for a change.
In the meantime, I propose that each day each of us commit to performing at least one act of kindness.
Not just to our family or friends.
But to the stranger, alien, and, yes, even the ones we disagree with.
And to the haters as well.
We shall call this the Reign of the Burning Coals.
We shall fill the streets, the chambers of power, the halls of education, the airports, train stations, and piers, with a people filled with fire.
There shall be no more enemies.
You will look out at night and see a million tongues of flame hovering in the air above our heads.
Pentacost will have come again.