“Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the center,
and that the radii are the different ways human beings live.
When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the center of the circle,
they come closer to one another at the same time as to God.
The closer they come to God,
the closer they come to one another.
And the closer they come to one another,
the closer they come to God.”
(Instructions VI.) ~ Dorothea of Gaza
“Holding on for dear life.” Have these words ever been more true?
Uncharted days for us. How is it possible to hold on to what matters most without touching someone or something? How is it possible to stay tethered and connected without feeling another’s hand or arms? How are we to make our way in these days of holding on and letting go?
We began this Lenten journey in late February. Here in Atlanta it was cold and rainy, a troubling foreboding for the beginning steps of a long journey. And still, we persisted. We stepped out into this journey that promised to walk us through the wilderness. Left foot, right foot. Along the way the moon has just about come full circle, and we continue. The world has been turned on her head, and still we continue. Left foot, right foot.
Is it possible to hold on to one another and not touch those we love? Perhaps our best way of holding on is to move from trying to grasp on to everything and move toward seeing the world bigger. Instead move to seeing ourselves in the world. Seeing beyond my struggles, my challenges, and taking a greater view, a worldview.
If we are all in this together, then love is truly greater than fear. If I am mindful and prayerful for my brothers and sisters I may never meet, then love is greater than fear. If the thoughts that drive my day are for those around me and not only for me, then love is greater than fear.
Moments seem to matter more to me in these days. A bird’s singing in the early morning, the kindness in a stranger’s eye, an unexpected grace. Moments that might have been missed earlier, but not now. Now I feel my heart wrapping herself around so many moments that come my way. Zooming with family and friends. Prayerful silence. Holding on to so much. Holding on to story, to connections, to hope.
We are not near finished with this Lenten journey. There is more yet ahead. We all feel this in our bones. If, in fact, we are holding on for dear life, then let us be prayerful and mindful about it. Let us keep our focus on what called us to take our beginning steps way back in February. Then we believed that we were on a spiritual journey to draw closer to God. This has not changed. Our world has truly changed, but not what blessed our stepping-out. We are seeking to draw closer to God.
Dorothea of Gaza would say that as we grow closer to God, to the center, we grow closer to one another. So here we are in these days of social distancing, and I feel closer to sisters and brothers – closer to family and friends, closer to strangers who seem to seek kindness just as I know I do. Our Lenten journey continues and so, sisters and brothers do we. Left foot, right foot.
(picture is from our Sunday School class this week at NDPC)