by The Rev. Colette Bachand
In light of this month’s theme of “science and technology” at Outreach NC, I began wondering whether Jesus would have used text messages and whether Buddha would have had a Facebook page?
Would Mohammed have tweeted? Would Moses have used Instagram?
My conclusion is that they probably would have, a realization that makes me consider how much I resist technology even if it means I can send and receive messages any time, anywhere, with people I love.
There’s something inside of me that wonders if carrier pigeons must have been a great way to exchange messages back in the day. You could write a letter, send the little bird off and then sit and wait, read a book, cuddle up by the fire, and even have time to start an herb garden before your message came back. Now it seems we can’t get through a meal, a movie, or a visit without something beeping to tell us we have a message.
Whether by carrier pigeon or email, the truth is, feeling connected is healthy for our spirits, and feeling a connection with God can mean a great deal as we age.
In the second half of life, we are less constrained by schedules and commitments leaving us more time, if we choose, to try spiritual practices like meditation, journaling, Bible studies and drumming circles. Because we aren’t in such a hurry, we find our connection with God deepened when we are standing in front of a sunset and decide we must paint it, even though we’ve never held a paintbrush before. With a quieter lifestyle and the need to take breaks and rest, we experience the God who connects with us as a “still small voice.”
Life has also taught us we can feel connected to God in places and ways we might not have noticed in our youth. Eyes and hearts graced by time and years give us the capacity to feel connections with the Divine in the gaze of a grandchild, the drive to the doctor’s with a spouse, and dinner with people who were strangers just months ago, but now, since moving to a new place, they are our closest pilgrims on the journey.
Our lives have already had the experience of being in what Celtic spirituality calls “thin places,” moments and places where it seems the space between heaven and earth have met and we experience God in a way we can’t explain but feel utterly connected to. When we are in the “thin place,” we are transformed and strengthened. “Thin places” are moments we cannot deny we are connected to something bigger then ourselves.
Some people say we find these “thin places” on mountaintops, in grand cathedrals or beautiful vistas that take our breath away. But I would suggest we don’t need to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or travel to temples of India to feel them; we have the same opportunity in the mundane, the ordinary and the everyday.
I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Prayer: the original wireless connection.” I like that thought because prayer is an emptying of the soul that makes room for God to do God’s work and connects us in a holding of trust and hope. I like that thought because it reminds me I have everything I need to feel connected to God – I don’t need a perfect prayer book, or perfect candle to light, or perfect place to sit to pray. God is already there; the connection is already made.
So how are you staying connected to God? The alternative to not being connected to God (the Divine, Creator, Higher Power) is loneliness, and quite frankly, loneliness is one of the leading causes of physical and mental decline for anyone, but especially for older adults. As the earth reaches out to connect with us this season, opening itself with colors and new life, I pray you find connections with our Creator who loves and longs to walk with you.
Whether by prayer, emails, text messages or even carrier pigeon, stay connected to that which nourishes you. Look for the “thin places” where God waits. And if you do get a text message from Jesus, will you let me know? I’d like to have coffee with you.
Rev. Colette is an Episcopal priest who has the honor of serving as Chaplain at Penick Village in Southern Pines and has worked in geriatric care for 15 years.