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The Need For Reconnection

     In his book entitled, The Search for Common Ground:  An Inquiry into the Basis for Man’s Experience of Community, published in 1971, Dr. Howard Thurman draws a sobering conclusion from his observations of the changes that were taking place among African American youth.  He said, “At last it is beginning to dawn upon us that at some point in the past-when we are not sure-we have become separated from our absolutes.”  When I consider the present plight of the African American community and the many challenges we face, I cannot help but feel that we are now living with the consequences of that separation.

     Our absolutes are those ultimate and eternal truths that are not only necessary for our survival, but are essential if we are to live meaningful, fulfilling lives that result in a sense of well-being.  As I have come to understand it, this is what the New Testament has in mind when it speaks of abundant and eternal life.

     When we are separated from our absolutes, we are separated from that which defines who we are, we tend to settle for a life that is less than the life we could have by fulfilling our God given potentials and possibilities and we accept the premise that we are independent individuals who must struggle to make it in this life on our own.  The result is that we are disconnected from our communities, from our relationships, from our families, from ourselves and most importantly from the God who is the Source and Sustainer of our lives.  One of the tragedies of this disconnection is the loss of compassion  and with this loss, we become primarily concerned about our own personal agendas and less concerned about the common good.

     In a recent forum on the Black child, one of the speakers spoke passionately about his anger at the present conditions in the African American community, particularly the plight of African American males.  As I listened to him, it occurred to me that at the heart of his anger is the depth of his connection with our absolutes.  He is so connected that he feels the hurt and the pain, the frustration and the anger that is created by the plight of many of those who live in urban African American communities and find themselves faced with almost insurmountable challenges.

     In the midst of this separation and disconnection, there is a word of hope.  Dr. Wade Nobles, a leading African American thinker on African American spirituality states, “…all Black people need to know is already inside each Black person…  We’ve got to get back to the Spirit”.  I am convinced that despite all we have endured as African Americans, we have survived and at points even thrived because of our connection with the Spirit.  I have no doubt that we need to make the best use of all of our God given talents, gifts and abilities to meet the challenges we face.  We must also explore and utilize all the resources that are at our disposal and where necessary, create new ones.  However, unless our efforts are rooted and grounded in the Spirit that is the source of our lives, our best efforts will fall short of their potential possibilities.  To my way of thinking, getting back to the Spirit is the way to reconnect with our absolutes.

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11 comments to The Need For Reconnection

  • April

    Very insightful and very true. Now, how do we convince the young people or help them see the value you in listening to/obeying the Spirit? As previously stated, the Spirit resides in all of us. Yet the lack of compassion and callousness that has given birth to the crisis we are now seeing in our communities suggest that we are rebelling against the Spirit.

  • bobbie jean

    Well stated, Rev. Yeargin. I believe when we ignore the Spirit within, we are making the choice to disregard the source that will see us through any challenge. Listening to my Spirit (or gut, if you will) has taken me in directions and on many adventures I might otherwise have not experienced, due to fear, uncertainty and lack of confidence to name a few roadblocks.

    April, I feel our young people are rebelling against their Spirit and calling it society, parents, rules and other names. It is definitely a separation and disconnection. We must seek to have our young folks engage in, once again, sitting at the feet of our elders to listen; even when there is “no time” to do so. An uncle once said to me, “While some of do, I didn’t get to this age by being a fool.” As I listened to him speak, on several occasions, I realized he knew exactly what he was talking about. He has gone on to Glory and my memories of our times and talks remain; even as my forgetter gets better.

  • So close and yet so far. While the Spirit resides within each of us (so close), we often do not understand just how close and, therefore, lose sight of, or are unaware of, that Spirit within (yet, so far). I agree, Pastor, that until we begin to turn back to the One who has sustained us and who keeps us day by day, we will continue to rely on self. We see it every day; and, not in just the young people, but even adults. I was having a conversation with my son about the message last Sunday; and, I was reminding him how important it is to take the time to sit at the feet of an elder, and to listen to an elder’s story about how they got over. In those stories are pearls of wisdom and faith. Woven into the fabric of their lives are the building blocks that can bridge our lives to the past and take us into the future with the knowledge of who and whose we are. That is lacking today in the lives of many of our people, hence, some are lost, disconnected. How do we bridge that gap? How do we light the way? We gotta keep on telling the story, our story, of how good God has been. And be a reflection and demonstate, by the life we live, what is possible with God.

  • Maxine Bigby Cunningham

    My Thoughts: The disconnection from our absolutes and from the Spirit, I believe, is both a symptom and cause of the of lack of wellness in our community, reflected in African American youth. Many are “sick” and don”t even know it – “walking wounded” without purpose,meaning, or direction in their lives. Indeed, disconnection with the Spirit disengages connection with ourselves.

    Solutions:
    Modeling by Believers within City Temple

    Training – not just providing information, but frank and open talk which applies the absolutes to their experiences and future. For example, what, indeed is this thing called love? What is meant by compassion? What is “the
    Spirit” and how does it differ from “a spirit”? “a ghost”.

    Youth Encounters – illustrated and brought to 2009 stories from the Bible that has precious negguets about connection and the work of the Spirit. For Example: Abimelech? (David’s son who waged battle against his father, set a fire when his father refused to meet with him, had sex with his father’s concubine) from the Old Testament and the prodigal son from the New Testament (including discussion of the son who stayed home)

    Find ways to embrace families and communities.

  • Hi April,
    I think we have to find ways to teach children and young people what it means to “love”. All of us have a need for that and if we are taught early what love is we can become sensitive to the Spirit. Of course it is not a simple matter, but I found in the sessions I have done with teenagers around sexuality and spirituality, they were interested, they listened and I believed they at least learned a few things. I think we sometimes overlook the human need to be loved and fail to tape into to that as a way of teaching the young people.

    Rev.

  • Hey Bobbie,

    I think you have a point. One of the things we do have to do is create the kind of atmosphere for our young people in which the notion of listening to the Spirit happens. When I think about it, I was never taught directly about the Spirit; it seemed like it was just a part of the atmosphere in which I and many of us grew up in. No doubt that will help.

    Rev.

  • Hi Vonda,

    I think you are on the right track. We do have to create the atmosphere that lifts up the importance of the Spirit. It was a part of our growing up. You’re right about our being a reflection of it and demonstrating it in our lives.

    Rev.

  • Hi Sis. Cunningham,

    I believe the disconnection is the very source of the lack of wellness in community. You are right that many don’t know they are sick because they have no idea of what wellness is. The only way to know that is to have some idea of what wellness is. That comes from having the connection.
    The very solutions that you mentioned do talk place in the form of Bible Study, Youth discussions in thier Sunday School classes, and some of the youth forums we have had on Spirituality and Sexuality.
    Thanks very much for your comments and we will keep working at it.

    Rev.

  • Adia

    I agree with Sis. Cunningham. Working within the school system, I am surrounded by so many who are, as you call, “the walking wounded.” They have little to no connection with their inner spirit because it seems, (and I am making this more simple than it truly is) that they do not KNOW their inner spirit even exists. So often do we let the children know this is not how we were raised or how we did things and the comment is, “So…. that was you, this is me.” There is SUCH a disconnect and much of it does come from the examples they see in front of them. We as a people have allowed our culture (or what we have allowed society to believe our culture is) to be “pimped” to the highest bidder. We have to stand up and take back who we are and remind ourselves first, who we are, WHOSE WE ARE, where we come from and what we have endured to get here. The hard part is trying to reach the ones who desperately need to hear the message and understand it so they can make it a part of their lives, become connected to their spirit and then share this information with others. We have walked away from so much that made us the amazing people we truly are.

  • Hi Adia,

    Thanks for checking out the blog. You make some excellent points. I know there are those who understand that it is up to us to make a difference.

    Rev.

  • Doris Hunter

    I agree with what pastor said and the comments made in reference to our connecting with the spirit within ous. I think the youth ministry should put forth special effords to help the youth find and connect with the spirit within themselves. We need to help them to understand the little small voice speaking to them. We also need to help them to understand feelings. ex.-love and hate.How to handle these feelings when they are detected.

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