When we begin a YES trip, we always bring everyone together to sit in a circle. All of our orientation and preparation is discussed in a circle, where we can see each other face to face and honor each person. By sitting in a circle, we express that we are together as one body from the moment we begin the experience. We are able to see the person who is speaking and give our ears and hearts completely to them. We sit shoulder to shoulder and express that no one is below or above anyone else. It dawned on me yesterday that since we are unable to be in the same room and arrange ourselves in a circle during online gatherings, we have to work harder to make sure our minds and hearts remain in the mindset that the circle provides. We may be chatting online, but we are always sitting in a circle.
Through this experience, I’ve often said that Jesus has baptized the divisiveness of screen time and made it unifying. It is where school is happening, work is happening, and prayer is happening. Because all of these things remain at the same level of importance, seeing each other at eye level and being a full participant in every encounter needs to remain the same. We have to be mindful to not be less present because it’s easy to hide. If we let ourselves be a fly on the wall, rather than a human in a chair, we may end up breaking the small semblance of community we are able to have.
- saying things we wouldn’t say to each other face to face
- succumbing to distractions
- not fully focusing on who is speaking and sharing
- having side conversations
- treating online gatherings like a TV show we are watching in the background
If online is the only space we have to gather, let’s do everything we can to make it a holy space. When we are given these opportunities to work, pray, and learn together, let’s receive them with deep gratitude. Let’s strive, in every encounter, to live into God’s ideal for this world. May our online spaces be filled with:
- abundant compassion
- peaceful unity
- keen focus
- full presence
- honor for every human
It is difficult enough to be isolated. The time we do have “together” should not just resemble community, but completely embody it. Let us not forget that we are always sitting in a circle.