Sacred Connections: Listening
During this week's Zoom gathering of Church of the Redeemer’s knitting ministry, I witnessed again the beauty of our being present to each other, our listening to our own voices and the voices of those we hold dear. Knitting, crocheting and needlepoint are the context of these conversations, but the experience goes far beyond that. This is a safe place for us to wonder out-loud, about our individual risk tolerance, our desire for travel, our longing to see loved ones, how we’re getting through each day. When questions arise about how to respond to those with risk tolerance very different from our own, Heather Krombholz always shares the quote that has been helpful to her, “You do you.” While these words may be familiar, they seem to also be clarifying as we continue to face challenging decisions in our individual and collective lives.
In these safe spaces of loving and respectful community, we feel that freedom to be as we are and acknowledge the limits we’ve set. We don’t have to have the risk tolerance of someone else, or judge them for being different, but we can be in touch with our own risk tolerance and feel comfortable in bringing it to light. As we do so, we also increase our own clarity, and potentially create an opening for our own further discernment or that of someone else. We all continue to learn as we go.
In my small neighborhood garage gathering of six, we have varying ranges of risk tolerance and these are notable as we share the stories of our daily lives. We have a few members who venture forth to restaurants, but only one willing to sit inside; a couple of folks very comfortable playing golf, more finding solace in walks; a few who go in the store for groceries, and at least one who always orders on-line. So far travel has been limited to cars, but some have family members who have arrived on flights. We are a bit spread out in risk tolerance, yet for the most part cautious, and trusting each other’s judgment enough to feel safe when we gather. We listen carefully to each other and respect the boundaries of those with lower risk tolerance, to enable us all to enjoy the gift of this time together.
Our Pop-up Church in Ault Park last Sunday was a beautiful celebration of our being able to be together as a community, and of our cherished relationships with each other. Smiling eyes were very visible above masks, as we claimed our well-marked spots. Our covenant felt like a sacred vow, not an obstacle, as we followed the best practices together to help keep each other safe. And even with physical distancing, we could still share our stories, we could still listen to each other. We could share our heartfelt gratitude for those moments being together in one place, being Church in Ault Park.
And we are also very much church together as we gather virtually, be it in the Virtual Narthex or for Rise and Shine on Sundays or for other Church of the Redeemer gatherings throughout the week. In these many Zoom touchpoints, we relish seeing familiar faces, hearing about each other’s lives, and sharing the struggles so many of us are experiencing now. We listen to each other and experience the gift of also being seen and heard. There’s great comfort in these brief interludes of relationship, community, connection.
Yet this is also a time of invitation for us to listen to our own inner voices as we walk through these days. Whether we live with others or alone, there is a solitariness to our experiences. If we’re older, we may be acutely aware of the passing of precious time, and deeply lamenting the loss. If we’re younger, we may be feeling deprived of experiences, rites of passage, new freedoms, that we had been anticipating as a natural course of life. If we’re in the middle range of age, we may be managing our own adjustments, as well as concerns for those older and younger as well.
Let us listen to the voices deep within us, with compassion, with gentleness, and respect. Let us trust in God’s love so present for each of us, even during these daunting times. And let us look for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we continually seek to walk the path of love.
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