I live according to the "Under My Nose" (UMN) philosophy:
"Pay attention to whatever God puts right under your nose."
And what do I find right under my nose at this point in history?
We certainly have a whole smorgasbord of choices: war, climate change,genocide, starvation, poverty; a seemingly endless array that is dished up each and every day in the news. Even our own families can sometimes present us with such challenges that just keeping track of who is 'under my nose' at any given time is a feat in itself!
But what I find most UMN at this point in time is the internet.
I'll admit that I first came online in 2000 with quite a bit of baggage.Like so many others, I had plenty of pre-conceived ideas about the sorts of sites predominating on the internet, and the sorts of people who frequented them. I soon learned the error of my ways though as I began to explore this new cyber world.
I visit all sorts of sites on a fairly regular basis. I can enrol in the school of life any time I wish to explore the riches contained winsome of the world's greatest libraries (no longer the purview of academia alone! Ain't it grand?). I was once even able to resolve a debate (and thus declare the winner of a bet!) by making contact with a NASA scientist online. What a time to be alive!
Being the social creature that I am, I love human interaction. I've always found people to be far more fascinating than any amount of facts or figures,no matter how compelling they may be. So it was only natural for me to seek out contact with others in cyberspace. I wasn't looking for a 'date' though. Rather, I was looking to take part in lively discussions about fascinating topics that interested me.
I soon found my way to discussion boards that included conversations about faith and spirituality (as you do). It was through this kind of contact that I have come to know and appreciate that there are real people behind the words on the screen, many of whom I now consider to be my friends.
I've witnessed God's presence in cyberspace when "two or more are gathered…" and, sadly, God's absence when I've seen people wield their words like sabres to vanquish their 'opponents'. I have come to understand that the respect we show for others in our discussions is far more important than anything we might have to say. The question then for me has become: are the words I'm using here helping to pave the way for God's presence - or contributing to God's absence?
I will never forget the day a member of one discussion community I was visiting came online in great distress having just been told her youngest son had been killed in a car accident. Her husband had perished in similar circumstances a year or so before and she'd only very recently left behind family and friends and moved to a new city on the other side of the continent to 'make a new start'. Unfortunately this meant that distance prevented her from any hope of having friends or family around to help her in her time of distress.
I remember feeling so frustrated by the fact that we lived on different continents and I couldn't physically go to her, although my heart certainly covered the distance easily enough. What filled my heart to bursting though,was witnessing people coming to her aid one by one; people she'd only ever known as names on a screen, who had driven miles to help her in her time of desperate need. I'll tell you, it certainly felt like "loaves and fishes" territory to me!
A few months later she came online to express her gratitude to all those who had helped her through those early dark days, including those of us who stood watch with her online during those first terrible hours. It was a powerful and very humbling lesson in the power of words. They are so much more than a bunch of letters on a screen; they are the expressions of our hearts and have the power to do great good or great ill.
Photo Credits: Earth Rising image adapted from Honeysuckle Creek image: www.honeysucklecreek.net/images/images_Apollo_8
What are your thoughts on this commentary?