We got a new front door mat a few months ago that says “Be Here Now” on it. Maybe we’re past the trend of a set of words being the defining feature of home decor, but I really like this one because it’s oddly obvious. “Be here now? Where or when else could I be?” But somehow in our day and age, this is a reminder that I need – I’m a person, who is HERE and NOW by nature of being alive and embodied, but there are so many things that pull me away from that.
Take this blog for instance. You can see the picture above of my door mat, but you’re not here or now with it. We’re surrounded by things that help us try to be there and then – a people outside of time and place. This has it’s advantages, and it’s truly amazing in some ways. I can see what my friends across the country were up to last night and sort of be there with them through the lens of a camera. I can look back into history, around at different cultures, read and watch and learn, all thanks to technology. I’m not saying this is all bad. Even writing allows us to transcend time and place – and I like the Bible a lot, which is an amazing collection of writings from different times and places, that I think people should engage with.
That being said, I think it’s really important to remember that we’re people of time and place. We live in relationship with others, breathing air, in neighbourhoods. Our ability to transcend time and place with our technology can cost our real relationships and communities as we put in energy to invest in spaces. Spaces feel great, and they’re often what we think we want, but I think our humanity longs for the depth of place – and many of us are feeling that loss in our current society.
Walter Brueggemann writes about the difference between place and space in his book, The Land. He writes:
Space may be imaged as weekend, holiday, avocation [a hobby or minor occupation], and is characterized by a kind of neutrality or emptiness waiting to be filled by our choosing. … Place is space that has historical meanings, where some things have happened that are now remembered and that provide community and identity across generations. … Place is indeed a protest against the unpromising pursuit of space. It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detachment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom.
What would it look like for our churches to become more like places and less like spaces? I want to keep exploring this because I think there’s a faithful line to be walked between protesting all technology and embracing everything new as an amazing opportunity with no cost. My prayer is that we can become a community that can “be here now” when we gather to worship, and that we will embrace the responsibility and hard work of being a place that is a faithful light in a world longing for something deeper than the spaces we all experience.