Eremos No. 125Editorial:
Only connect... EM Forster
The gathering of articles for each issue is often a more serendipitous than linear process. We do actively solicit articles, but others appear seemingly out of the blue. It is then my pleasure to allow them to come together into some meaningful whole. I find myself asking how each person’s story fits with our story (Eremos and beyond) and the larger cosmic story. As I engage in this way, certain threads of connection emerge across the articles.
The first two articles address the larger story of our psycho-social-spiritual evolution, including the personal and social transformation required to address the needs of our world. But their emphasis is different. ‘We are the People We Have Been Waiting For’ is more upbeat and positive about the transformative impact we can have on each other, while ‘The Dark Underbelly: Violence, Culture and Religion’ suggests we are bound to each other, not by compassion or resonance, but by our competitive and envious desiring, as well as our tendency only to join forces to scapegoat the outsider. Perhaps these different ways of understanding the human predicament and what is needed for repair and growth reflect gendered ways of knowing and responding to the world’s pain. At any rate, it is perhaps important to apply both perspectives to issues that cause us concern, for example the treatment of refugees.
With Alex Nelson’s and Noel Giblett’s articles we move towards stages or themes within a person’s faith journey. Alex uses the metaphors of pilgrimage, procession and wilderness to reflect on his own and others’ experience. Noel’s narrative traces his journey towards a less dualistic approach to self, sexuality and the Divine Presence in his life.
Sue Littler’s ‘Death and Life’ shows how rudely any life can be interrupted by a health crisis. Her narrative conveys both the immediacy of her near-death experience and an observer’s detachment.
Sometimes life thrusts us into this sort of liminal space, or time out from business as usual, as Richard Rohr puts it. At other times we choose it. Both apply to Sean Gilbert, who had been thrust into that space by marital breakdown and an impending fiftieth birthday, and who was also choosing to make a retreat. There he discovers (or is reminded of) the synergy between poetry and prayer that allows him to move forward through writing poetic prayers.
Stephanie Dowrick’s Heaven on Earth: Timeless Prayers of Wisdom and Love allows us to experience this connection through reading others’ prayers. Stephanie’s text and the prayers themselves remind us that we are part of a vast and diverse company of fellow pilgrims from all religious traditions and over the centuries – I have found myself thinking about the ‘communion of saints’ in a different way.
Finally Stephen Webb’s report on the survey he conducted reminds us what connects us as an Eremos community.
Until next time, Namaste - I greet the God in you