Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Practicing otherness together

I feel as if I have been working and living in a vacuum: so very alone. I always think I am such an introvert and believe I prefer things that way. And, sometimes, I do. But right now, I could do with some companionship, some championship. Writing a book is lonesome work.

Yesterday,  I heard from a wonderful young friend overseas doing mission work in a very unconventional way (she's living and working among that country's people) and introducing them to the concept of Christianity if and when they or the circumstance seems ripe. I know she's becoming accepted and her gentle ways and beliefs drifting to others. She remarked how alone she felt until she articulated a prayer for "fresh vision" for her work and life even though she's "living the dream." When I responded to her e-mail, saying how much she hit the mark for me as well, she added wisdom from yet another friend:

" ... it's not loneliness, it's just aloneness. It's that I'm the only one who carries both of my lives from the two sides of the ocean with me when I cross back and forth. No one else comes along and 'gets' it on both sides. "

My friend added:
" I believe you are a builder in what you're doing, but you're not the only builder. You might not see the other ones or grasp the layout of the whole structure, but your piece fits into something bigger and you're not really alone in it."
Several years ago when I was in the midst of a two-year spiritual-nurture training, I was introduced to the concept of "otherness." I had never heard the term, yet it immediately spoke to me. And I now know we all experience that otherness much more than we'd care to admit. There is, definitely, work we must do alone, but there is also a corporate aspect that gives great meaning to our lives. Quakers are adept at balancing the individual and the corporate, using the community to encourage, challenge and hold accountable.

When we can recognize that we are not truly alone, but that we all feel like it, it builds community and support by that very insight.

My prayer is still for fresh vision, companionship, championship. It' s a prayer many others are uttering as well ... in unison with my heart. Awareness of practicing otherness together makes it not otherness any more.

• What's my auto mode when I feel alone?
• How often do I admit that feeling to others?
• What happens when I do?
• Am I currently in need of a fresh vision?
• How am I able to ask/pray for that?

head stuck in a notebook or a computer behind a closed door by myself often, it's solace lately, it's lonely it IS my work but I desperately need another to understand, to cheer how many of us have the same prayer?

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