Seeing and Being Seen
A Reflection by The Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr.
You are seen.
We desire to be seen. Our souls yearn for it, just as our lungs yearn for air, maybe more so. To be gazed upon means life rather than death for the newborn. The en face gaze between mother and child is an intimate echo chamber where love seeks to snap together the brain’s limbic system and to teach the soul synchronicity with the world.
Some say the existential angsts of humanity comes from our need to be seen. When the mind turns too deeply into questions of meaning and purpose, that is when God appears, dropped into the system to answer questions and reduce anxiety. There is a Latin phrase for this… deus ex machina. It means the introduction of an outside mechanism to resolve an unresolvable plot in the story line. Deus ex machina answers the question of why we so deeply desire to be seen: because we are made to desire the gaze of God.
The logic then continues: God way up in the clouds sees us, and is pleased or displeased, as the case may be. God keeps a ledger and will read it back to us someday. So behave! You are seen! If you give this line of reasoning much thought your anxiety should go up unless you decide this faraway god just loves you no matter what.
This is where I become concerned. If we desire to be seen and believe that we are admired unconditionally by a God who lovingly gazes upon us, then we might be given to disordered self-concern. Historically our neighbors / families / friends would have helped us break our own unquestioning self-admiration. But now we can be seen by countless throngs as we send our image into the ether sphere. According to BGR (an on-line tech news source), in 2014 almost one trillion images were taken, the preponderance of which were Selfies.
What is lost in this jungle of narcissism is the capacity to see others. What is lost is the reinforcing echo chamber of love that not only gives health to our bodies, but also synchronicity to our souls.
Today we are confronted by this question about seeing and being seen. Mutuality is the watchword, relationship the catchphrase of connection. A far-off god is not relational, a thumbs-up response to a photo is not mutuality. Even as the Internet has become an outward and visible sign of our interconnection, it also has tempted us into the isolation of virtual malaise.
The very foundation of Christianity strikes back at this separation. The incarnation of Jesus was a pre-emptive strike, sent to seed our souls with the reality of an intimate, present God, who both loves us unconditionally and participates in our lives. God is not looking to grade us later, but rather to take our hand and dance with us now.
You are seen indeed, but most clearly when you see others. Look. Engage. Do so by inquiry into their lives, and not just once or every once in a while, but repeatedly, over time. Regularly. And seek to see God as well. That is what we are taught through the art of the spiritual exercises: daily prayer, weekly worship, Sabbath, liturgical patterns. In all these we set aside time to look back at God.
We are seen, and we desire to be seen. Indulge incarnationally, repeatedly, and at close range.
Bring a picnic dinner, blanket or lawn chair to this popular summer series.
Donate Socks to Teen Feed and NightWatch
The Epiphany Summer Concert Series and Social Outreach are teaming up this July.
We encourage you to bring a donation of white athletic socks to each concert. A large container will be available for drop off.
Cheers……Ann Beck for Social Outreach
Leader Commissioning – Sunday, July 9 at the 8:45am and 11am service
VBC– Monday, July 10 – Friday, July 14, 1-4pm
VBC Sunday – Sunday, July 16 at the 11am service
Please pray for our campers and leaders, and join us in celebration on the next two Sundays!
Epiphany Labyrinth Dedication
Children in the center of the labyrinth laugh as the Rev. Kate Wesch sprinkles them, and the labyrinth, with Holy Water during the labyrinth dedication on June 30. Kate and the Rev. Todd Forster presided as we welcomed the labyrinth into our community.
Our first parish walk on the newly dedicated labyrinth. We had three Sundays of education, construction and conversation about the history, uses and designs of labyrinths, before we officially spread it out for walking. The labyrinth will be available for walking at Taize services and quiet days and at other times throughout the year.
New Summer Forum
Starts July 16th
The Spirituality of the Beguines: A Study Group
July 16, 23, 30, August 6 & 13 at 10 am in the Garden Room
Susan Pitchford and Robin Mondares
Do you know about the Beguines? They were a movement of women who flourished in the 13th century, though they hung on into the 20th (in greatly reduced numbers). They were women who sought to live committed religious lives, though they were not nuns & didn’t have a rule of life. At a time when women were nearly all under the supervision/control of either male relatives or male ecclesial authority, the Beguines managed to carve out a small free space in which they served the poor and wrote some spectacular mystical and poetic texts. Join us this summer to learn about their particular forms of prayer, to ponder their contextual emergent movement and how that can speak to us today, and consequently how they were one solution to the “woman problem” of their time. If there is a “woman problem” of our time, what is it and what sort of community/spirituality might be an answer to it? We will be using the book, Brides in the Desert: The Spirituality of the Beguines by Saskia Murk-Jansen, and other writings of the Beguines.
The Primrose Players bring Hamlet to Epiphany’s Courtyard
Tomorrow, Saturday, July 8 at 2 pm
Tuesday, July 18th at 6:45 pm
Features Dan Niven, who made our labyrinth and led the Sunday forums on the labyrinth.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Join us in Elsinore and witness a paranoid and obsessive usurper, a terrorized young woman losing her wits, a lustful queen, a gregarious pomp and at the center of it all a furious and tortured man, struggling to will himself to action. One of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays has never been more timely; playing in the greater Seattle area weekends in July!
For more information go to: hamletseattle.brownpapertickets.com
– Introducing Chinnie’s Catering
Epiphany’s Business Manager, Chinn Eap has started a new venture, Chinnie’s Catering – Food From the Heart. Some of you may know Chinn personally and have already enjoyed her fabulous dishes at Epiphany events and parties. Now with Chinnie’s Catering, everyone can experience her traditional and flavorful dishes from her menu. Download the menu and plan your next party!
Click here for downloadable menu.
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45: 11-18
or Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Click here to view Prayer List