Today in church we talked about Jacob being "stunned" to once again be united with his boy Joseph because Jacob had been under the impression that over a decade or so earlier his boy had been killed by his brothers. My pastor described the Hebrew word translated "stunned" to be more akin to "experiencing a brief cardiac event" and that the word "stunned" did not give us a sufficient understanding of what Jacob was legitimately experiencing. Now, I won't be so naive or haughty as to claim that my life is a series of literal brief cardiac events per se, but sometimes I literally believe my brain stops firing neurons because its system is simply overloaded and cannot compute the breadth of thoughts passing through its circuits.
Ask anyone who has ever been remotely close to me and they will testify that I am always thinking and questioning and wondering why (and that it drives them crazy!). Some see it as a waste of energy, and I have been told many times to "lighten up." There is probably some merit to that advice, but in moderation, I don't think I will die as a result of being intensely interested in life and wanting to explore the depths of thought and existence. After all, it is highly accepted and encouraged in most academic settings (shout out to all my peeps with philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and theology degrees), so why can't I, an everyday teacher-woman, don these same processes in search of something more fulfilling or at least a little bit more sensical than what I make of the world currently? I can and I will, thanks :)
Seeking depth does not have to be as challenging as diving to the bottom of the deep blue sea. Obviously, that act takes loads of expensive equipment and training. True depth, in its existential meaning, comes from building trusting relationships and opening oneself a little bit at a time to come to understand the world better. The beauty of this process is that once I become a bit more fulfilled or feel like things make a bit more sense, another "existential crisis" (a term applied by my boyfriend when referring to my own "brief cardiac events") manifests in order to encourage me to begin questioning again, and the whole process begins again instantly.
It is natural for humans to want more out of life. We see it play out in a perverted way within our consumerist culture as the dissatisfied grow weary of their quantities and acquire more quanitities as they seek greater fulfillment. In a more metaphorical way, as we grow older we may grow less fulfilled with our knowledge and experience, but naturally we develop an evolved understanding of the world as we gain more knowledge and a broader spectrum of experiences. We may not realize it is happening, and when we fail to acknowledge and reflect upon our gained knowledge and experience, we may not find fulfillment.
I find that living intentionally in community with others is one of the most forward propelling acts of exploring fulfillment of coming to a better understanding of life's questions though the intellect and emotion. One person is incredibly individual, and yet a group of people is colossally congenial. As a direct result of living within an intentional definition of community, we can simultaneously gaze upon reflections of ourselves while attempting to stand at a variety of distinctive vantage points that may not be natural to us. Our primary lens as humans coming to understand the world better is undoubtedly through one another's experiences and knowledge, allowing us to develop highly informed and evolved worldviews/perspectives.
This brings me to my personal community: the Christian community. Because so many spend their time and energy bashing the church and not doing anything to act out the change for which they are yearning, I want to simply explore and not bash the issues within the community. I am currently in a leadership position within my local church community and feel that I am wrestling with questions and disconnections that could use some communal thoughts. I want to see possibilities of change and specific solutions or at least questions asked in order to come to specific solutions. For each smaller community, depending on specific theology, demographics, cultures, etc, the answers to the questions look different, but I think the questions make sense and some of the answers will translate because after all, we are one unified body, the Body of Christ.
(see part 2)