by Charles Bowie
I’m always anxious when I fly from one locale to another. My mind always seems to turn to the “bad” that could happen, yet, I always remind myself of the good that could happen. Once in flight however, it’s a different story. In flight I find myself enamored and enjoying the view.
Nothing captivates me more than seeing the world from 37,000 ft. I look down and see the beauty of our world at a distance. I see the crevices in the earth’s surface; the lakes, rivers, and bodies of water and am overwhelmed by their magnificence. The mountains are extraordinary. It’s almost as if I’m transported to a different plane of existence. Even the clouds that surround the aircraft present themselves as objects of veneration.
Having this distance helps me grasp a sharper vision of the condition of our planet. It’s remains a beautiful and awe-inspiring place. As I take in all of its wonder, there is a peace and silence. There is a sense in which while I sit here on the plane at a distance from the ground, I am very close to it. It was as if the distance actually brought me closer to it; creating a sense of intimacy with the earth.
I begin to reflect on the human family and ask how can we begin to see those distant from us as actually close to us? There are structures in our world that create a distance between us that is more divisive than intimate. Power (economic; political; religious) is one of those structures. What would life be like to step back from our pursuit of these forms of power and examine it at a distance? The problem however, is that many are too tuned in to the pursuit. Distance is needed, but the grind and getting ahead is an addiction.
Process Theology and its focus on relational power offers us another way. The way however, is one that is often not taken. It is the way that Jesus speaks about as the straight and narrow. Relational power requires a radical shift from seeing others as mere utility to seeing oneself in the other and actually grafting the other into our life such that we begin to create our lives in response to the other. So while there is a distance, there is also closeness, an intimacy that allows us to express our humanity in its most powerful form, namely, vulnerability and “weakness.”
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