Together: A Family Memo
We are in this together.
No competition, no judgment. Just honesty. That’s the only way we can get through this life of ours.
We say, enough of the rat-race. Enough of the accumulation of things. Enough of the pursuit of status. We say, “Remember! Life revolves around real people. Not screens. Not the lives of celebrities. Not a video game. God created us to live, together.”
What does that mean?
It means not letting words go unsaid.
It means not living so caught up in ourselves that we forget about the young fourteen-year-old girl who steps off the bus each day, walks into her home, shuts her bedroom door behind her and sits on her bed thinking of how to kill herself.
Synonym: with each other, side by side, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, cheek by jowl. In chorus, one accord, in unison.
That’s how we should live.
Each day as a song. But not to the world—some vague and unrepresented thing. But to each other.
A song rings out.
It carries forth.
A song catches our fancy. We hum it under our breath while we work. We sing it in the shower. We can’t get away from it. It seers itself into our subconscious.
Songs require voices.
And voices carry wherever there is air. In the back alley. In the suburb. Out on the farm. When we breathe, we inhale the voices of the world.
And a voice brings magic. Powerful magic. Like the voices of a thousand angels singing somewhere on high. Voices bring that goosebump feeling from another world.
A chorus heralds something great coming from somewhere special. And we are the chorus. In unison we sing the notes of life, heralding the beauty of our humanity, proclaiming the wonder of our Creator.
An adverb expresses a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause or degree.
Together: how we live during this time and circumstance.
This time of life; a hard time; a slow time; a blessed time. This circumstance; the moment right now; the decision about to be made; a consequence about to be experienced. And how do I live it? Apart?
Together: the manner in which we live in relation to one another.
Not apart. Not alone. Not exiled. Not hidden or lost.
Together, so as to touch or combine. Is not life the very picture of a touch, a combination.
We kiss, hold hands, embrace, tickle, caress. Actions universal to every human being. The ubiquitous language of humanity.
Who doesn’t understand the words of an embrace? Who doesn’t realize the intimate surrender of a kiss?
Do we stand together today?
Or do we care more for being on certain sides or within inner-rings or shouting our own activism?
Do we lock up our souls? Do we cling to our sedatives? “We need drugs, apparently,” writes Wendell Berry, “because we have lost each other.”[i]
And why? For what?
Something other than the “you” I’m here on this earth to care for?
Sherry Turkle is right. Or is she?: “Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.”[ii]
A heritage of faith.
God—the together-One. Three-in-one. His power to us emerges through together-ness. He speaks, and the world comes alive. Sudden abundance and joy of being alive, together with the Creator.
But the holy act of creation was not the act of a solitary god. But the Three-in-One, God.
Father and the Logos-son-Jesus take the scene. But even before the life-giving words come from God, the Holy Ghost hovered. The first scenes of life erupt with life-giving, with Adam naming, then finding, Eve. He sees her and sings the lyrics of every marriage forever after: “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Not only together, but from one another. We fit.
And the life-chorus of togetherness begins, heralding the love and beauty of God.
We come from the Holy Community, to form our own.
Emerson wrote, “… every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”[iii]
You and I live as the sayings of the ancients. Imagine; we, the quotations of God, the Son, the Holy Ghost.
And it is the pursuit of reunion that conquers separation.
For when the Christ blistered into this world through the womb, through innocence, through anonymity, through servile means, he gathered us to himself.
Vagabonds, failures, head strong loud-mouths, swindlers, zealots. And he continued to gather.
He drew all people unto himself through the blackness of the tree. Such is the beauty of Holy pursuit. Such is the wonder of reunion.
Then the Christ whispered for the Ghost to come, and he came; with fire and wonder he came. And hearts again came alive and broke at the same time.
A new community was formed. Re-creation.
And they broke bread and gathered, together.
They sang songs and hymns and spiritual songs.
The world knew them, but not by their loud words. Not by their witty or bent tweets. Not by their hubris in the public square. Not by their “intentional” engagement” or their “influence” with and on culture.
The world knew them by their quiet acts of service. By their absence in the obscene. By their willingness to pass into anonymity.
Their willingness to eschew acclaim. Their willingness to burn as garden lights for Nero. Their unnerving existence in the wilderness.
And the world saw them, out there, in the wilderness.
And the world walked out to them and asked, “What are you doing out here? Why do you help so many, yet ask for so little? Why do you take the jeers and not shout back? How can you invite shame, and care not?”
And the wilderness glowed bright with the light of the saints. An incongruent people took over the world in the shadows of obscurity.
This is the history of the called-out-ones. The cave-gatherers. The cross-bearers.
Do you know them?
This is the history of togetherness. From Adam to Christ to the Church.
This is the history of the greatest family love story ever told: a god running, undistinguished, down the road to meet his estranged son and daughter.
To be back together.
[i] Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman Wirzba, 1 edition. (Washington, D.C: Counterpoint, 2003), 61.
[ii] Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011), 1.