Proximity

“There’s something weird about playing games in the wake of terrible tragedies, but really, games are always played in proximity to tragedy.”

John Green

Friday morning, while I read about the new adaptation of Jane Eyre, my iPad clinks to life with a pop-up news alert.  These are the alerts that usually wake me up in the middle of the night, their Eastern-time urgencies telling me that the Republicans, the Packers and The King’s Speech have all come to victory while I was sleeping.  The alerts only chirp during the day with news important enough to wake a sleeping journalist in New York.

Tsunami Hits Japan After 8.9 Earthquake

I shiver, thinking first of the friend who lives in Japan, trying to remember exactly where he lives.  From specific concern I cross to the general, even more horrifying, considering that the last devastating earthquake registered a 7.0, and the last major tsunami disaster’s death toll reached six digits.

I’ve always heard it said that the faiths of the elderly represent decades of richness and depth, the spiritual discipline and relationships that have carried them through an entire life of walking with Christ.  Today, it also strikes me that the news of disaster must cut more deeply as we grow older, glancing backward at the ever-lengthening parade of tragedy behind us.

I walk to school through the fresh and sweet-smelling promise of an early spring morning, considering the contrast of my calm, quiet Friday to the chaos of the other side of the globe.  I’m remembering September 11, 2001, when during my last year of high school we spent the day wondering what we should do, the extent to which going on “normally” was either disrespectful denial or possibly a celebration of hope and resilience.  At cross-country practice I ran in a square along sunny Seattle streets, wondering why I couldn’t smell the smoke or if I should really be nervous every time a plane crossed the cloudless sky.

Technology, with its news pop-ups and Twitter feeds and live streaming video, makes the world feel so small that it doesn’t seem like it should be possible for the other side to shake to pieces without the rest of us trembling, too.

At a place like BFA, no part of the world escapes notice.  When Egyptian missionaries are exiled, when South Korea and North Korea stand off, when an earthquake and tsunami devastate Japan, it is specific and not general concerns that tie us back to those places.  There are parents and colleagues, alumni and friends, who’ve ventured to all corners, taking with them our love and prayers.

And that’s how the world becomes smaller, really.  Not knowing about the world, with geography painted in our minds like the maps on the playground, and countries exist on the news in bright colors and camera angles.  It’s knowing that we are linked together with stronger ties, like organs in the body, so that no one part suffers without the notice of the others.  It’s knowing that we are a family that spans the globe, a net stretched across oceans.

I’ve felt it before, in other international communities of believers, but the sense of interconnectedness of this body of Christ has never been as strong as it is here at BFA, and now as we pray, wait and mourn for losses on the other side of the world.

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4 thoughts on “Proximity

  1. This thought is so profound. “Technology, with its news pop-ups and Twitter feeds and live streaming video, makes the world feel so small that it doesn’t seem like it should be possible for the other side to shake to pieces without the rest of us trembling, too.” And I like the John Green quote too. What book is that one from?

  2. so many thoughts in the wake of the tragedy, not the least of which is the remembrance to treasure relationships with those living elsewhere, because you just never know. thanks K, for wisdom.

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