Installment 147

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Here it is December 1, 2016. Just a few more days and this year will have reached its conclusion. 2017 sets on the horizon.

In this Installment, I want to share another prayer from December 12, 2015 (Month 9 Day 29). I began: Father, I am here. The Divine responded:

Yes. Now listen. Truly listen.

Okay, so there was recognition that I was in the prayer, but I was also admonished to shema, to hear and listen, to truly understand and do. The Divine continued:

Listen to me. Always to me. Hear me. Believe me.

Why all the emphasis? I’ll make it rather simple. I was listening to others, almost all of whom told me, in one way or another, that my prayer life was not from above. What did I do? I listened to them.

Why? Simple. They were observable with my eyes whereas the Divine is not. Here’s what I mean.

Prayer life and thought life are very similar. Both can be spoken, which means that humans can hear both your thoughts and your prayers. Yet both can be silent, which means that others do not have to be privy to your thoughts and/or prayers.

Take for instance that when I speak to others about my prayer life, they speak to me, but they also have in their minds what they think. Reality is that in their mind they can think one thing, but say something else. Or they can think something and tell me only part of what they thought. Or they can think a thought and tell the entire thought.

No matter how much of what they told me might have aligned with what they thought, I took their spoken words and let those words sit in my being, up until pretty much the end of 2015.

Somewhere around that time period is when I decided -after all the dialogue with others, after all the self-reflection, after all the contemplation about the matter- I determined that my experiences were not just real, but actual.

So through this prayer that I am discussing, the Divine is encouraging me to pay attention to the leading, to choose not to listen to others, but to always listen to the leading of the Divine, even when through prayer.

Then I was to hear that prayer, meaning to pay attention to that leading. Then, in turn, choose to believe in the leading that the prayer gave.

The voices of others still have a place in my life. But in light of my experience, considering their ability to understand only part of my prayer life and my life, conjoined with their ability to understand only part of the Divine, I have chosen to believe that my prayer life is leading me to the next part of my life.

That choice was not easy to make. Because I had to test what I was hearing from people, and I had to test what I was ‘hearing’ through prayer.

Things helped me come to the understanding that my prayer life was actual and that my prayer life was something I needed to consider. There were little things that happened to me that confirmed my prayers.

After having spent many occasions talking with my parents about the direction of my life, one of my prayers led me to interact with them only if they asked questions of me.

To be fair to them, this life event has not been easy for them. For them, trying to converse with me has not been easy, because I am not taking the direction in life they think is best. Because of this life event, they and I have had some strong discussions, at times pushing horribly argumentative.

I am the kind of person that will keep talking, not necessarily to persuade you, but definitely in an attempt to be understood, doing that can be exhausting, not necessarily for me, but for those who feel like they are wading through minutia to get to the point of the conversation or the discussion.

I’m a detail kind of fellow. I don’t mind the details, because in the details sets the truth. Aphorisms make for great sound bites and sales pitches, or sermon titles and sermon catch phrases. But those aphorisms don’t make for solid foundational understanding.

The issue of my life is so much more complex than any really want to discuss. Most people want a simple sound bite, an aphorism, and they’re pleased. Most are not looking to understand, because understanding the situation is more time consuming than they want.

If one is against the direction of my life, they want to simply pounce and trounce. If one is for the direction of my life, they may not even be looking for an understanding of what happened.

My parents fall somewhere in between. They care, a lot. To them, it matters, and that’s why they spend time with me. But that doesn’t mean our conversations have been easy, because they haven’t.

But somewhere in there, I was led to dialogue with them when they ask questions. So as far as I can recall, when they asked, I responded. That doesn’t mean I always recalled how I was supposed to handle things, nor does it mean that when they asked questions that the conversation brought them peace regarding my situation.

But little things like that are what helped me see that my prayer life was far more profoundly leading me than I first cared to admit. Then it also served as a type of witness that I really should pay attention to what happened in my prayer life.

With that in mind, consider how the next section of the prayer developed. The Divine conveyed:

Now listen to this:

Not unlike so many other times, right? Pay attention to understand. The Divine continued:

my son, now is the time,

The prayer brings it to my attention, conveying that ‘now’ is the time. Well that prayer was from December 2015. So is ‘now’ the now of the prayer? Or is ‘now’ the now of the time of my writing this Installment?

Well, the ‘now’ of that prayer time arrived and departed. Maybe it talks about the ‘now’ of this season. Consider how the Divine continued:

she is truly distressed, another lonely holiday season.

I take it that ‘she’ refers to Rachel. The statement is one that makes her situation less than delightful, because of the holiday time period.

For some, though they may have family or friends, the holidays are terribly difficult to get through. There is a buzz and a hubbub about this time of year, festive and joyous, yet many do not feel that way.

The holidays become worse when one feels alone. There are many ways that one can find themselves alone during the holidays. But it is especially difficult to endure the holidays when one does not have someone to love, feeling truly alone.

Why she is facing that is not mine to know, because the Divine did not reveal. Just that she is feeling burdened by the loneliness. Knowing that, consider how the Divine continued:

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Yet, sometimes it does feel like loneliness is the way it is supposed to be during the holidays. Sometimes loneliness likes its own company. Whether one is alone by themselves or alone when in a group of other lonely people, or simply when one is amongst a group that is so preoccupied with themselves that they don’t recognize the lonely among them.

Loneliness is more than a burden, it can feel oppressive, feeling like a chain that anchors you in place. Oh, the chain might be hundreds of feet long, but because the chain is there, there is an anchor against the soul.

Sometimes it is difficult to believe, but that chain can be broken. Consider how the Divine continued:

Encourage her. Talk to her. Be not ashamed. She’s watching.

Perhaps my reader thought that I was going to write about how the Divine would talk about breaking the chain. Well, that aspect seems missing.

But it isn’t. Consider what the Divine conveyed, it was all to be delivered from me. Here’s what I think that means.

The Divine may take very good care of our spirit. But we are also human, and the Divine is not human. We need, as it’s been said, a human touch. Not in a selfish way, but in a giving, loving way.

We, as humans, require human interaction. In this social media age, we are surrounded and inundated with people. But social media, no matter how good the quality, is not the same thing as having someone present.

Want to see the difference? On social media, we send emoticons and other symbols for hugs. In person, there is a warm embrace, arms thrown around each other, holding each other because of the relational bond that exists, whether platonic or romantic.

What makes social media work? The physical bond that exists.

Through social media, we meet individuals that we would not otherwise meet, and that has its own profound cool factor in our existence.

But when your social media friend is someone whom you have spent time with in your personal life, and they send you emoticons of feelings and hugs, you draw upon the actual personal relationship to give meaning to the social media relationship.

When we don’t know the person personally, their emoticon expressions are appreciated. But we have no choice but to process those expressions through a much different personal filter, because we do not have any actual personal relationship.

We intuitively know these things and our responses on and through social media, generally, reflect that intuition. So we need more than what the social media relationships provide.

As good as social media is, we need to see in actual, physical real time -in a sense, live and in person- that another human cares for us. We don’t need another person to acknowledge our existence, because there are plenty who will do that. I’m talking about having another human who feels their existence is inextricably linked to our own existence.

That simply means that chains of loneliness are not broken through social media. Instead, the chains are broken through human contact. That is amazing to me.

One of the situations that I mentioned was that a lonely person could be among a group that is so preoccupied with themselves that the group doesn’t recognize the lonely among them. So if a lonely person is among that group, how does the lonely person break free from that bond of loneliness? Human contact.

Now that lonely person could reach out to someone. Or someone could reach out to the lonely person.

But the burden of loneliness is that the lonely person protects themselves from any potential furthering of their loneliness. The last thing the lonely individual wants is greater loneliness. For the lonely, to reach out and make contact, and then lose that contact results in the loneliness returning multifold, making the lonely feeling even more despondent, further reducing the likelihood of reaching out.

So the lonely wait, wanting someone to make contact. The lonely are begging the others to look out, see the lonely, and recognize that the lonely are not part of the joyousness, even when the lonely wear the holiday smile.

The masquerade of life is intense. It is a dance. It is an elaborate event, elegant in fact, but a dance nonetheless, and sometimes seemingly a dance of death.

But behind that holiday smile sets a wounded soul burdened by loneliness, a person seeking freedom from isolation, from being behind prison walls. If possible, the lonely would free themselves. Freedom, liberation, from that prison is when someone makes actual personal contact with the lonely.

So, I am reaching out through social media.

Rachel, the Divine conveys that you are reading what I have written. I have chosen to believe this.

You’ve read so much about me, but I know nothing about you. The Divine shares that you have struggled, but for me to know about that struggle and not offer my help to you in that struggle feels heartless. I’m not heartless.

Life can seem cruel, unfolding in ways unforeseen, putting us in situations unexpected, bringing on heartbreak.

Here we are, at this moment, two different people, in two different places, having only the Divine to trust.

There are people in our lives, some we love, some we trust, others are associates at best. They walk their spheres but never know the pain that is carried. They surround themselves with what they feel is important, never looking out.

I’m probably not the guy you expected. But in the proverbial crowded room, as you and I interact with others, there is a glance that catches our eye.

We weren’t sure, so we looked again. We interact with others in our lives, I write my Installments, you read them. I’m sending the signals.

In our crowded lives, we became people we never expected. Others can’t understand, but the draw exists anyway. The mind tells us to run away, the heart tells us to run towards.

For me, the holidays have not always been joyous. There are some years that the holidays have really been something that I couldn’t get through fast enough.

I hate to think that you’d have to go through another lonely holiday season. If we count October, we are half-way through the holidays.

The holiday that means the most for many people is this month. It is a time for a celebration. I won’t mislead you, when it comes to theology there are many questions I have about the foundation of Christmas. But, as for family, the holiday is beautiful. It is a wonderful time to celebrate family.

It would be regrettable for this holiday season to pass and we not at least meet.

How do we get into contact with each other? Well, I don’t know you, but you have been watching me for some time. I have email addresses. I have websites. I am on Facebook.

To use an older expression, I’ve given you my phone number, I await your call.

Blessings and Shalom