One of two reflections. This one, on solitude and sacred spaces, is a confession or an apology, depending on how you take it.
I have, for some 16 years now, walked my dog in the green belt around our San Antonio home. In character it resembles the mud flats and sand dunes of Prof. Turkle's Cape Cod. For the past few years, first my iPod and now my iPhone have joined us on our walk. "Why?" Sherry (may I call you Sherry? I'm a fan.) might ask? "Why cut yourself off from the experience of being alone in nature?"
Perhaps the answer lies in what I do with my iPhone. After all, it is not solitude itself that matters but what we fill it with (insert crude joke about ending sentences with prepositions). My iPhone brings two things to my walk. First, I use it to call my 96 year-old father in Hawaii. It is our time to be with each other across those many miles. Second, I listen to the weekly podcast from onbeing.com.
But talking to Dad and listening to you, Krista, are not all that I do on these walks. Often, I hear something on your podcast that sends my monkey mind off along paths that I find quite productive. This reflection is one of them. So I find myself often pressing the little button that rewinds the podcast for 30 seconds.
And, because I am more, much more than my consciousness, the totality of my being is in and is exquisitely sensitive to my presence in the greenbelt. How I talk to my father or listen to you would not be the same were I not walking in the greenbelt. Indeed, because it is movement and not stillness that focusses my consciousness, the very act of walking allows me to listen to you with a depth that I could not reach if I were sitting at my desk or on my couch.
If you can suggest a finer place than my greenbelt to talk to my father or listen to your podcasts, I would like to hear of it.
Moving on to sacred spaces, and, in particular, to the dinner table. I'd be interested in your reaction to this experience (which I've hd more than once, by the way). Sitting at a restaurant, I see two women at a nearby table. Each of them is chatting away on her mobile phone. I think to myself, "Why aren't they being with each other?"
So, I begin to eavesdrop. And, in doing so, I come to understand that the two women at the restaurant and the two on the other end of their link are engaged in a four-way conversation. There are, in effect, four people at their table: who physically present and two present by virtue of technology. What makes a place sacred is not what is physically there, but rather what goes on there.
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