Wednesday, March 15, 2017

God at the center

Some people have experiences which, if they bother to think about it, ought to make them mindful of how vulnerable and alone we are unless we have God to center our lives. For instance, suppose you're traveling alone. In a motel. In a strange town. You go for a walk. You don't know anyone. No one knows you. You don't belong to anyone there. You could be anywhere or nowhere. 

This experience can be heightened in other ways. Suppose you're moving. You're in-between homes. Say you sold your house, gave the realtor your keys. No going back.

But you have yet to take possession of your new home. So you're adrift. At the moment you have nowhere to call home. 

Say you stay at a motel until the deal closes on the home you bought. You can feel naked without your house keys. You're in a habit of never leaving home without your keys–so that you won't be locked out. But now all you have is the key card to your motel room. It's an odd sensation to instinctively reach into your pocket for your keys, but the familiar, comforting objects are gone! A momentary, conditioned sense of panic ensues. 

Likewise, suppose you're not just traveling alone, but you're truly alone. Single. Widowed. Divorced. That, in combination with moving or traveling, can intensify the sense of isolation. At the mercy of strangers. People who really don't care what happens to you. No one to rescue you. No one to call if you're stranded. 

It's similar to the sensation of being lost. Some people feel enshrouded by a sense of alienation and lostness from living in huge, impersonal cities. The irony is that there's a special kind of loneliness which people can feel when they are surrounded by other people–strangers. 

Or take someone who's diagnosed with a serious, complicated illness. He's referred to a specialist, then the first specialist refers him to second specialist, who refers him to a third specialist. A succession of strangers. 

This is one reason people marry. To have someone to grow old with. But oftentimes, one spouse will outlive another by several years. So you may still end up being alone at the most vulnerable time of life.

Friends and family mask how essentially isolated we are. Their presence fills the foreground, blocking out the background. But when they're gone, we may discover that there was nothing behind them: just empty space.

If you really stop and think about it, unless God is the hub connecting the spokes, our lives have no stable center. Nothing to keep things together or bring things back together. 

1 comment: