Our Mutual Longing
“Sometimes, I think our country’s tragic divisions will not be healed until
we are somehow lonely for one another.” – Maggie Hover
That sentence above is a miracle. Just reading it is healing. I feel its power, the power of its author, and the power of the community from which the words arise.
My friend Maggie and I are part of a Sympara writing group that meets weekly via Zoom. Our theme is “Aging for the Common Good.” A foundation-building effort for Sympara's sacred/civic placemaking, the writing group is exploring the shared task of people in the second half of life: to become elders who guide others toward justice, inclusion and sustainability.
In Maggie's recent essay she shares her “wish for closeness” and wonders what it would mean for Americans to long for each other. I think we're lonely for one another already, even if we don't know it. In this time of social distancing, those of us unaware of our loneliness, or reluctant to name it, struggle to find another explanation for the sadness that has shaken us, that took hold of us before the pandemic and now makes its home with us in lockdown, curfew and quarantine.
Being lonely for each other is the condition for sacred/civic placemaking. The recognition of our need for each other, and more, our longing for each other, is the basis for all the work Sympara undertook this year through educational offerings and consultations with congregations and faith-rooted organizations. Our endeavor to create community between religious institutions and neighbors by leveraging underutilized physical, financial, social and cultural assets is, to use Parker Palmer's phrase, “the politics of the brokenhearted.”
He says broken hearts can close us or open us to each other. “(A)ll heartbreak, personal and political, will confront us with the same choice,” he writes. “Will we hold our hearts open and keep trying to love, even as love makes us more vulnerable to the losses that break our hearts? Or will we shut down or lash out, refusing to risk love again and seeking refuge in withdrawal or hostility?”
Friends, we choose to keep our hearts open, for we are “lovers in a dangerous time,” as singer Bruce Cockburn puts it. We choose to admit our loneliness for one another, because this is the way to heal our divisions.
To carry out this work, Sympara needs your financial support. Your gifts enable us to engage individuals in reflection upon our shared longing, to teach leaders how to leverage assets for our mutual well-being, and to guide congregations and neighbors toward our common healing.
There is a power we possess together. It is a sustainable resource, replenished by every step we take toward the other, by every gift we share. And, indeed, it is a miracle.
Please make a gift today for the promise of sacred/civic placemaking.
P.S. Learn more about Sympara's current and upcoming projects that your gifts make possible.