Reconciliation and Right Relationship

Have you ever had a friendship end in a way that leaves you wondering what happened?  I have.  I know that people come and go in my life as the seasons of it change.  However, this one friend’s disappearance seems to haunt me as the feelings of disappointment and sadness surface at random moments in my life.  Like yesterday while listening to a sermon about reconciliation.  So my question is: How do I reconcile with someone who doesn’t want to talk to me and is no longer a part of my life?

The priest said that we must be in right relationship with our fellow human beings in order to be in right relationship with God.  Yet, relationship is just that, a relation between two people.  So if we must be in right relationship then both people must be a part of that process.  In my case, one of us won’t be a part of that process.

I found this piece of advice from Marc and Angel helpful: “Focus only on what can be changed;– Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood.” (For more of their insights visit them here.)  I can only change myself.  I cannot change my friend.  So if I am to be in right relationship with him then God must provide the opportunity for that to happen.  I have prepared my heart.  I have done what I can alone.  The next step lies outside my control.  Sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is nothing.  

The answer I come to today is: Be me and trust God for all the rest.  What do you find helpful when reconciliation is beyond your control?

The Potter and The Clay

What do you experience as you watch this mediation?

My experience last week at the Grünewald Guild inspired me to create this video as my final project for my Gospel and Global Media Cultures course.  I was invited to participate in the annual raku pottery firing.  I love the look of raku pottery.  It is astonishingly beautiful.  Now though!  I have a deep respect and amazement for the process that creates that beauty.

This raku was fired in an outdoor kiln which seemed incredibly hot to me.  Then taken with tongs and placed or dropped or tossed into a garbage can filled with local pine needles.  The lid is securely fixed to the top of the can to limit the oxygen for the fire to what is within the can.  The fire sucks the oxygen out of the glaze on the pots and the remaining metals react with elements in the pine needles to create the fabulous colors that make raku famous.

Watching this process, even participating in it, created an experience of immersion in theological metaphors in me.  I am still mining the depths of these revelations.  What is resounding for me now is the relational implications of “the potter” in this process.  So many people working together to make this beautiful pottery, I believe, can represent something of an idea of the trinitarian nature of God.  Like all metaphors it has it’s limits too.  It doesn’t represent everything of Trinity.  For example, there is definitely a “lead” potter in this film.  Still the process was so different from what I have imagined my entire life  the metaphor of God as potter would look like.  I am deeply struck with the change.

I was so touched I wanted to share something of the experience with you.  So I really do want to know… what is your experience?

 

I can’t learn what I want to know on the web. No, really I can’t.

Let me be clear up front.  I love surfing the web.  I love new things.  I love learning. If curiosity truly kills the cat then I am in deep trouble.  I can’t get enough of these things.  But to be quite honest with you.  I love other things more.  My husband, my God, my dog, my family,  my friends, and my well being.  All of these things are relationships and they need personal, intentional tending.  (There are other things in my life that need tending too but here is where my heart is this morning.)

These relationships and my time spent in social media and online in general on not entirely separate things.  My connection through Facebook keeps me in daily contact with friends and family across the globe.  That connection is priceless to me but I do need to engage it with caution.  So many of my friends and family post fascinating articles and opinions that I am so tempted to just keep clicking my way through my entire day.  I just want to know it all.   

Perhaps you can understand then that I felt like this concept from Net Smart was aimed directly at me.  “Making informed decisions about where to deploy your attention begins with realizing that nobody can ever take advantage of all the interesting opportunities the Web presents us.”  As much as I want to read and learn everything I am curious about, I can’t.  I just do not have that much time in my lifespan and my relationships are more important to me.

When it comes to online knowledge seeking, I need to follow Stephen Covey‘s advice and “begin with the end in mind.”   I use social media to connect and tend my relationships.  If my time online is not serving the love I wish to show and experience in these relationships, then I need to focus my attention on what is really important to me and say no to curiosity in favor of love.

Do you struggle with the YouTube Time Suck of Death or the Facebook Click Through Time Destroyer?  How do you choose what is important to you?

Social Media Flash Mobs Hmmm….

Reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody has me wondering about social media flash mobs.  He relates the term flash mob to a small group of people using a particular social media tool for a short period of time.  This is precisely my assignment.  I am to blog for a week to reach (at least) my 12 classmates.  I’m intrigued, now, by my first participation in a flash mob.

What do other social media flash mobs look like?  Evite would be one tool that focuses on a flash mob model.   Can you think of others that cater to a small group of people for a short amount of time?  I’m coming up blank at the moment.

However, I can think of a few examples of a larger social media flash mob moving from the virtual world into the physical world.  The Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s physical flash mob of support?  Someone posted the video on YouTube, others spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other media.  The resulting crowd that gathered in the rotunda was so loud the senators could hardly hear each other and the vote came too late.  (There’s more on that story today, if you’re interested.)

There were social media flash mobs during tropical storm Sandy.  Word spread through the social media and people began to share where gas stations had power, where there were places to charge phones, and where people could find shelter.

Just in these three examples I can see that social media is changing not only the way we socialize, but also the way we govern and the way we respond to emergencies.  Does the idea of online flash mobs give you an idea of how social media is changing our world?  Will you share it here?

So What’s With All the Gratuitous Gratitude?

Back in March of this year I was struck by an off hand comment a classmate made during a History of Christian Spirituality discussion.  She said that James Martin SJ tweets his daily examen.  I was fascinated by this idea.  Why would someone tweet something so private and personal as his daily examen?

If you don’t know about Twitter, here’s a description from the book Click 2 Save:  “Twitter is a micro-blogging platform, with every post limited to 140 characters, including spaces between words.  Like blog posts, tweets tell a story in real time through short bursts of commentary and information.  Likewise, the aggregation of tweets over time tells a more extended story.”

Something about the combination of the fleeting nature, the 140 character constraint, and the completely open forum of Twitter called to me spiritually.  I thought about the impact Martin would have with his huge following by showing this deeply personal piece of himself in a really tight capsule.  (Turns out he doesn’t tweet his examen right now but that is beside the point.)  What could I do with the limited exposure I have on the web to highlight the notion that God lives and moves in this world, my world?

An entire examen every day was way too much for me to tweet. Yet, I believe that God moves in my life all the time, all I have to do is slow down enough to recognize it.  In prayer, the notion of a gratitude a day began to evolve. Now the project has 4 requirements:

  • it needs to be about me personally (I can’t tell another’s story for them),
  • it needs to be on Twitter (public for anyone who wants to read it),
  • it needs to be something specific (a particular thing that was important to me on that particular day),
  • and the whole project should look like an ordinary life (because that it what it is… just my ordinary every day life).

 

This project has already given me a wonderful new way of viewing my day.  I am constantly aware of the little things that I am grateful for during my day.  I smile a bit more often now.  Yet, there is another fruit of this labor.  Somehow through this very specific, very constrained medium of Twitter, my life with God is getting recorded for others to witness.  

That boggles my mind!  While I was brought up to be a witness to the gospel, I never imagined it looking this way.  I don’t try to convert anyone, I just share the little things I am grateful for in my day.  I don’t believe this gives a full view of the gospel, my life, or Christianity.  Hardly.  Just a tiny peek into an ordinary life in our ordinary world with an extraordinary God.  

What are you grateful for?

Is my world real?

Have you ever wondered how much control you have over the information you allow into your world?  

I have been pondering this question since reading this in Mary Hess‘s Engaging Technology in Theological Education:  “[Technology} makes it seem possible to control my environment to a large extent.  It makes it seem possible to choose how and with whom my children and I will interact.  I am convinced that such control is illusory, but it is a highly seductive illusion, and it comes at a high price.”   Can I control my environment through technology?  If not, what price do I pay for believing that I can?

I don’t watch much television, or listen to the radio much, or read any newspapers.  I get most of my current events information from word of mouth, online news sources, and links in my Facebook newsfeed.   I have good reasons for not engaging these media as my main source of news but I had not thought out all the consequences of so narrowly limiting my exposure to the world.  Have I excised the voices unlike my own from my life’s newsfeed?  If so, then how do I encounter the richness of God’s creation?  

If not, then what price am I paying by believing the illusion?  Hess points to the environmental price of not seeing my American consumption and the role it plays for the people in poverty of the world.  I think there is a more personal price as well.  I lose a vital corrective lens when I start believing in the illusion of control.  Control will fail and then I am knocked off my center by the mere presence of that which I have banned from my vision.

 

What do you think?  Can you really control your view of the world through the technology by which you receive information?  If not, what price do you pay for living the lie?