Pondering the idea of connections today. Recently, as bits and pieces of society are returning to normal, I realize more clearly my need for connection. I’m an introvert. I’ve often said had I not married, I could have been a hermit on a hillside somewhere. And yet, maybe that’s not quite true.
A group of women were meeting recently. One asked this question, “Suppose you are on a long journey – maybe 40 some years. You can take one animal with you. What animal would you take? And why?” She explained that you could pick any sort of animal, real or mythical. The answers around the table were intriguing. My own answer revealed a personal truth, affirmed some thoughts that have been rising up within.
While sorting out thoughts and feelings, I was reminded of a favorite poem by Walt Whitman, “A Noiseless Patient Spider.”
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,~Walt Whitman
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,
seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
The extended metaphor comparing the isolated spider with a soul captures my imagination. I can see that spider, the filament, the persistent launching, in order to connect, the bridges that connect spaces creating the spider’s web. I see myself as the solitary soul, surrounded by so much space. My soul’s work – to actively make connections, vulnerable, unsure where the threads of my life will land. Questioning if they will take hold? If bridges will be built? Hoping to anchor my soul in a sphere of connections.
The musing, venturing, throwing – are those examples of our creativity, our writing, our art, our conversations? Are those attempts at putting ourselves out there – hoping not to be shut down??
It’s interesting to think about our connections. I have a connection to the sea. I grew up near the beach, spent many weeks camping by the seaside, playing in the Atlantic. I still long to be on the seashore! I have a connection to flowers. Their colors, shapes, fragrances brighten my smile. I love to walk in gardens! But of course, connections with people, family and friends, those are in a whole other category. We connect through our shared stories, experiences, and through our relationship with the Savior.
A new follow on social media recently asked, “Can we use social media as a spiritual practice?” And my follow-up might be – “Can we use social media for soulful connections?” My answer to both is yes! There is no divide – secular vs spiritual. We are feeding our souls on social media. I create online often. I also consume – it’s where I read daily. It matters greatly who I follow, what I pursue. A spiritual practice I have is breathing in what I observe online and breathing out the prayers that need praying.
Our daily rhythms are inexplicably tied to our spiritual lives.@tabithapanariso
I also connect online. I’ve lived in three states, worked in numerous schools. Social media is one way I connect with friends in far places. About six months ago, a dear Twitter friend said she was struggling to keep up with her daily devotional time; she expressed a desire for some sort of accountability. I asked her what that might look like to her and she suggested maybe some sort of Facebook group. So – being the retired one with a little extra time on my hands, I created a Facebook group. My Twitter friend and I invited friends who might like to share devotional readings, pray for one another, and help one another be accountable. Twenty-six women have joined. Not all participate fully, but hopefully seeds are planted in their lives in the daily sharing of scripture. This is just one example of connecting through social media.
As Walt Whitman points out, spiders continue to create their webs, and so our souls also seek connections, over and over again – throwing out threads, invitations, stories, phone calls, greeting cards, posts, and more to anchor ourselves to others!
One sweet truth is that we already have an anchor for our soul. Jesus is the same – yesterday, today, forever – and He promised never to leave us!
This hope we hold as the utterly reliable anchor for our souls,Hebrews 6:19 Phillips
fixed in the very certainty of God himself in Heaven,
where Jesus has already entered on our behalf –
My prayer is to actively connect with Jesus daily, repeatedly throughout the day, in continuous prayer! Musing, venturing, seeking Him … who is my Redeemer and Friend!
And then, praying also to be led in making human connections – forging, crafting significant relationships to share His joy! Yes, I gain energy in solitude and quiet. I long to be alone. At the same time, I am realizing more and more that we are created for community. Introversion is not isolation – as John Donne so profoundly wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” — we are connecting lands, connecting spheres — the gossamer threads we fling do catch!
We have an anchor that keeps the soulPriscilla J. Owens, 1800s
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love!