Perspectives by Rev. Feras Chamas

 

"Too far! You can still take a picture with him"

Distance is something we need. Life can be busy & demanding: family, work, social and financial demands and many other responsibilities can make us feel surrounded and leave us a very small space to move and breath. 

Distance in this sense can mean the possibility of being away from everything and everyone burdening us and doing what we like to do for some time even if that means not doing anything at all. 

Having enough distance in this sense on a regular basis is a very healthy sign for us and for the people around us. 

But on the other side, distance is a cold word; it can mean the barriers or the unwillingness of people to interact with each other on a deep and real level. The more this meaning makes its way into our close and nurturing social circles (family, friends & colleague) the more lonely, dry and even miserable we will be.

Some people believe this meaning to be the milestone of the time and age we live in.

I think of the word “distance” and its meanings every time I read Isaiah (55: 8-9). 

It says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

Now, we are all able to handle “different” to a limit; some people can flex and stretch more than others, but a heaven-earth distance is too much for anybody to accommodate! 

The distance between us and God (creation and creator) must fall under the darker shadow of what “distance” means. We shouldn’t then be surprised to see many people avoiding faith or religion; why bother anyway!

In the course of our life, we are introduced to two kinds of “distance”. 

The first can be called a “conflict distance”: it’s when two parties are too far from each other to join hands or the barricades between them are too high and solid to climb or to break through. This kind of distance closes the doors between the two sides of the story and everyone would turn & walk away. 

The second is “discovery distance”: it’s when we realize that two parties are so different from each other, but still the space between them is a welcoming and inviting one. When a climber looks at the snow-covered mountain from a distance he/she realizes how far and different the two masses are (climber and mountain). But that distance is something to discover and explore. Every step toward the mountain and its top is a learning and changing experience. Somebody’s story will be very very different before and after such a climb. 

The same thing is true for the lakes, oceans, universe and all the grand things in life. From the very beginning creation revolted against the distance between us and God. Adam and Eve’s symbolic story was the first episode of that rebellion. 

God does not enjoy us staying on the foot of his mountain, but surly wants us to climb. A person flown to the top of the mountain is a very different person than who climbed all his/her way up.

Trying, failing, exploring, learning, crying, wanting to give up and finally laughing and enjoying the view from the top are always part of the journey. It’s the journey of building an authentic relationship. Only those who work up a sweat to climb know the songs of the journey. 

Shortly after starting to take “selfies” we discovered our need for more distance. Our arms are long enough to show us and a couple of friends within the same frame, but that was not enough. We quickly learned that our eyes and minds need more space and scenery to look at & reflect on to understand what we see. 

This is why commercial companies were so kind to come up with “selfie’s sticks”. Now, if we were to take a selfie with God can you imagine how long the selfie stick needs to be for us to understand what we see?   

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” is to be seen as invitation to climb and struggle with God to reach all the way up to the top and enjoy the company. 

 

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