Monday, July 11, 2016

"how bad we need each other…"

"life, is too far to walk alone
you can't do it on your own.
it's like bare hands
digging through stone..."

For a while now, I haven't written a post unless something really catches in my heart. Today, I heard Marc Scibilia's hauntingly lovely song, "How Bad We Need Eachother,"and broke into tears. It speaks to where I am right now, and where I think our world is.

We've become so full of our own self-reliant determinism. We have computers that give us all the information we could ever want, on any subject we can think of. We have devices that entertain us in the middle of the night. We have phones with geo-locators that can give us directions to any place on earth and help us find our way home when we are lost. But they can help us find what we are still searching for.

We are still looking for a sense of belonging.  There is a distance we are trying to bridge.  We are hungry for connection.  And all the binge watching of our favorite television series cannot replace what happens when we laugh with a friend or cry with a loved one. 

That modulated voice on Google maps will never be able to imitate your mom -- or dad -- no matter what accent or vocal tone you program into its settings. It will never be able to remind you of that crazy road trip the family took in 1968, when a missed turn took you to the edge of the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night and you ate s'mores for breakfast at dawn. It will never be able to place its hand over yours on the gear shift, singing along to Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," as you drive across Kansas.

We need each other -- badly. Facebook gives us a false positive -- all the time. It allows us to be dismissive and careless with those we see every day, and then get online in the middle of the night and have our consciences soothed by all those "likes," that just keep on coming. Who needs to be kind in the moment, when at the end of the day our latest status update, photo, or "share" leads to a stream of likes, heart icons, comments, thumbs ups, and admirations.

Recently a friend was going through hell. I mean serious human hell. Her most current Facebook profile photo showed a smiling, happy wife and mother. Her latest status update was full of personal joy, professional achievement, and showed photos of a beautiful family event where she was surrounded by those she loved. Weeks later friends were still commenting about how delighted they were for her. No one had picked up the phone in weeks to call her. Everyone assumed her life was suspended in ether of her last status update.

But it wasn't. A family tragedy had kept her from returning to Facebook, and she was deeply in need of comfort and encouragement. When I learned of her situation I called her. Little did she know that I actually needed her, to need my friendship, just as much as she needed a friend.

The desire to belong is woven into our spiritual DNA. I believe it is why the Lord's Prayer is written in the language of our, us, we. It is in our relationships -- our real, living breathing, face-to-face relationships with one another -- that we discover the depth of our humanity. And it is in the midst of this humanity, that our relationship to the divine is excavated from the ego's burial of substance, in symbol.

The other day, I was sitting at my desk feeling quite alone. I love my work. I am blessed with a career that allows me to speak, text, and email with folks in the most life-afirming way. But I hadn't heard myself laugh in a long time. I missed sister/colleague/girlfriend/neighbor/citizen of the world time. I missed beating my husband in a game of Scrabble. I missed sitting with a friend while we waited for a movie to start. I missed linking arms in advocacy for social injustice issue, with like-hearted citizens. I missed driving through a new town, stopping for breakfast in a random diner, and learning something about the life of a single mother in a small rural community.

I needed human connection. I needed to feel that I belonged to a family, a community, a cause. It just wasn't enough to know that my Facebook friends liked my most current status. I needed to make eye contact, to hear the nuances in a friend's sigh, to have someone intuitively know that I didn't have it as "all together" as I was trying to project.

I grabbed my keys and drove to the library.  Checking out a book, I found myself standing at the counter talking with Melissa about her new haircut. Then I drove to the coffee shop where I ran into a few neighbors and caught up. Wandering next door I caught up with a new friend who owns a small business, before stopping in at another friend's shop where we discussed the economic plight of women in third world countries. Running into a dear friend, who had recently lost a loved one, I shared her tears -- and her gratitude that these relationships give us access to the deepest parts of ourselves.

Then I went back to my office. I was refreshed and connected. Not just to those people I had laughed, cried, and listened with, but with a palpable sense of the divine operating in each of us. We can't fake those moments. We can't photoshop the tears out, nor can we correct the wrinkles and blemishes that make each of us vulnerable to the other's humanity. 

We can't put a perfectly crafted spin on a regrettable moment, or pretend that we aren't hurt. We are forced to see the way our words might have affected someone, feel their sadness, and do what we can to alleviate suffering. We can't just soothe ourselves with the one hundred and thirty-four "likes" on a witty status update, a new cover or profile photo,  or a recently shared inspirational meme.  

All of those likes and comments can be encouraging, endorsing, and edifying, but they will never replace the tender touch, an attentive look, the intonation in a sigh, precious times spent in silence -- together.

In times of national and international sorrow, it is so easy to feel connected by linking to of an article posted by a friend, or find a sense of community in our common take on social/political issues. But we need more. We need shared laughter, heart-to-heart conversations that  make our eyes brim with tears. We need to feel forgiveness in a touch, or comfort in an embrace. We really do need one another -- badly.

In her spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"Give us this day our daily Bread.

Give us grace for today,
feed the famished affections..."

I don't know anyone who is fed by a beautifully lit photo of loaves of just-baked bread, or is refreshed by a perfectly described glass of icy, cold lemonade. We need the warm embrace, the bracing laughter, the healing touch. We need each other -- in real time.

We don't have to be afraid to honestly and candidly face the storms of being human - together. To hold one another, to listen deeply, to speak words of comfort.  Because, as Marc sings in his song

"Storms never come to stay,
they just show us,
how bad we need each other..."

And we do, we really do need each other.

offered with Love,


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