Proximity. In the greatest sense proximity is a word we use to describe and measure the closeness or distance between us and someone else; the space between two groups or objects; the liberty or time between two naturally existing identities. In Aikido we call it maai which is often used to describe the proper distance between the uke and the nage or the first and second mover. The practice of maai is however far deeper then that and considered a philosophy which encompasses not only the physical acts we commit but the thought patterns and spiritual constructs to which we engage in.
John Minford articulates a case for proximity which has really engaged my thoughts over the passed few days after I was reading his commentary on Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ at the outrageous hour of 3 am one night after being unable to find sleep. He writes:
This fragile equilibrium between action and nonaction, between sensitivity to the signs of what is and the will to engage it, expresses a fundamental dichotomy that underlies so much of early Chinese thinking about the management of human affairs in general, be they military, civil, or personal, be the philosophical standpoint Taoist, Confucian, or some other “nondenominational” strand in Chinese philosophy. It finds its earliest expression in that monumental repository of early Chinese thought ‘The Book of Changes’, whose entire premise is that it is possible to see into potential changes before they occur, to grasp the subtle configurations of Yin and Yang and thus attune oneself to the energy at work in the world around us…
Marcel Granet adds, “They lived in a state of constant revolutionary expectancy. They were preparing themselves to occupy the seat of the Son of Heaven, that is to say, to impose a new order on a civilization. And so the slightest change could mean total change; and seizing the slightest sign of change was tantamount to seizing the opportunity of bringing about total change.”
John Minford – Potential Energy in ‘The Art of War’ 2003 (Page 161)
It seems to me then that the perfection of proximity is not so much in the quantifiable facts of its existence but rather in the acknowledgement and practice of the potentiality of movement within each and every moment or instance in which we find ourselves in proximity or relationship to that of another identity or perception. How close or how far we find ourselves from any one person, place, or time is not as important as how we engage the possibility of movement towards or further away from them.
What does this say then about the proximity in which we find ourselves engaged with God’s voice in our life? How do we treat the potentiality of movement between us and his presence within the daily time frames? Is our proximity to spirituality gravitating towards the following and lordship of Jesus Christ? Do we find our potentiality in movement becoming closer and more personal to the nature and likeness of the Jesus we claim to be following?
Last night my friends Myles, Doug, George, and myself piled into my van as we headed north to the small City of Airdrie. We were going to hear Rik Emmett and Dave Dunlop play live at the Bert Church Theater. In honesty, I first thought it was going to be a church but in actuality it was a small little amphitheater seating 100 people at most. It was diminutive, intimate, and created an atmosphere which fostered a closeness to everyone that was there. This proximity in the moment electrified the air, charging it with such energy that the music became more then just simple talent. It was transformative and introduced a kinship of appeal which the four of us could share in. In essence it was a proximity to spirituality to which each of us was a part of and experienced.
In Luke 5:27-32 there is a story of when Jesus called the tax collector Levi (or Mathew if you prefer) to be his disciple. Jesus walked over to a small tax booth, looked Levi in the eyes and said, “Follow me.” This was a personal call that Jesus had for Levi and he meant it within an intimate context. It was a context which generated an electrifying atmosphere which compelled Levi to move and transform his whole life; to reconstitute and bring a new order to his understanding of civilization and existence. It wasn’t Mathew’s character that drew Jesus to him. It wasn’t anything about who he was then in that moment; his physical or social stature; his mental thoughts, beliefs, or philosophies; or even how righteous or spiritually holy he considered himself to be. It was the potentiality for movement that brought his proximity to Jesus!
Where do you find yourself in proximity to Jesus? What potentialities exist in your life which can bring you closer intimacy and personal connection with his existence in reality? How do you express and communicate movement towards your spirituality?