The Redemption of Distance

Now that we can no longer go to the gym there are other muscles to train. One of these is the ‘distancing muscle.’ In acting this is the art of stretching the distance between two actors on stage without letting the space between them go slack – or dead. In music, it is the art of stretching time – without completely losing the pulse. Today we are all being asked to practice social distancing. This does not mean that we should no longer face the world or each other. On the contrary. On a walk we can choose a tree in the distance, a flower on the ground, or a person – and enter into this space between ourselves and the other with conscious attention. Most likely we will first experience this space as an empty space, maybe even a dead space. However, if we decide to turn our attention to it, increasing and decreasing the consciousness we brings to it, we can learn to flex this attention like a muscle. We may even eventually begin to feel this in-between space become alive and take on a certain bounce or even a very subtle vibrating sensation to it. We can then try to see how far we can stand apart from someone and still feel this in-between space stay alive. In human relationships this space is often either suffocated – by being too close, or starved – by being too far apart. In both cases this in-between space is unable to breathe properly when not filled with that intentional consciousness, that attentive interest called love in its purest state. The French philosopher, mystic and political activist, Simone Weil wrote: ‘God created through love and for love. He did not create anything except love for itself and the means for love. He created love in all its forms. He created beings capable of love from all possible distances. Because no other could do it, he himself then went to the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This infinite distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion.’ And he did so for all of humanity to be held by His love within that distance, that in-between space, that divinely human, humanly divine space between.

Rev. Gisela Wielke