May 20, 2011: Face Time

Yesterday, Susan Robbins, founder and Artistic Director of Libana, sent her e-mail contacts a link to a TED talk she described as “strangely moving.”

Strangely, huh?

Although we all know TED talks are not brief I watched it immediately.

And, yes, it was moving and yes, Susan Robbins, who is ALL about the power of music to build community and the synergy created when voices join one another would find a “virtual choir” strange.

Irony: an excellent jump-off for a blog.

Maybe I’ll begin by describing that first heart-sinking moment at a Midsummer Sing. Susan had already led the twenty-five or so women in the circle through some community-building exercises, we’ve warmed our voices and now, it’s time to sing. Something filigreed, hauntingly beautiful—perhaps in Hebrew or French or Swahili. A complex round, perhaps. Or in four-part, intriguingly discordant harmony.

Yeah, right!

But we do it. Together. And it’s incredible.

I won’t belabor this. You get the point. Amazing things happen in community.

Conversely, icky things happen when we’re not face to face. Twice, this week, I’ve been called on e-mails their receivers found hurtful.


Being in the same room: vital.

And staying in the same room: Critical. How resilient is a community of men and women who have never met, never grappled with the hard stuff, never spent the time learning one another’s back story? Not very, I’m thinking. It ain’t fun to hang in there when the people you’re trying to build community with are pissed or annoying and what you really want to do is leave, dramatically slamming the door behind you. (Just to be clear: If your Fight or Flight alert is activated, get the hell out of there!) But I’m pretty sure that when Marin Luther King talked about “beloved community,” his back story was all about the squabbles, pettiness, shouting matches, etc. he’d encountered—and endured—among his associates, parishes, and his own family.

I’ll close with this: face time might mean praying together. Intentionally taking the time to collectively acknowledge Something/mystery/The inexplicable which operates when two or more are gathered.

Just sayin’.

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1 Comment

  1. I bet a survey of business/volunteer organization people would find a majority who had had at least one near-disastrous instance of email mess-up in the last month. It happens over and over again, but we keep falling into doing important things on email because it seems like it will be okay just this once, if we cross our fingers, and it’s such a time-saver — only not really. It reminds me of text messaging while driving — if I try very very carefully, and just this once, it will be okay.

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