Share Yourself

The Atlantic magazine just published “Why Americans Suddenly Stopped Hanging Out,” an article by Derek Thompson. It includes this reporting and commentary:

From 2003 to 2022, American men reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30 percent. For unmarried Americans, the decline was even bigger—more than 35 percent. For teenagers, it was more than 45 percent. Boys and girls ages 15 to 19 reduced their weekly social hangouts by more than three hours a week. 

There is a direct correlation between the lack of “hanging out” and deteriorating mental health, especially for teens.

Citing a Harvard study, Thompson says that the “simple and profound conclusion” of their work was that good relationships are the key to happiness.

What is happening?

People are seeing friends face-to-face less. Attendance at churches and temples is down. Employees are working remotely. Volunteering is less than it has been. 

And why?

There are some apparent causative factors: COVID-19, obsession with social media, and fear of criminal activity.

As a teenager, I used to hitchhike. I hitchhiked to the local beach. I hitchhiked from Connecticut up to Maine and back. Friends of mine hitchhiked across the country. And we weren’t the only ones.

Do you see anybody hitchhiking today? We are afraid of what might happen to young people if they did.

What might be behind the more obvious factors that drive our social isolation? And how do we find a creative way through this social trend that profoundly affects world culture?

I live at Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The community “hangs out” together for meals and twice a week in worship services with people attending from the surrounding area. For people who live around the globe, we make our services available online.

The physical proximity of the people in our worship space facilitates something else—spiritual intimacy—an experience of a collective heart and a shared field of consciousness. That experience extends to people online.

Physical proximity can facilitate spiritual proximity. But not necessarily. You can feel very alone in a group. A sense of aloneness can be accentuated in a social situation without emotional and spiritual connectedness. So, we want to use physical proximity to create something else: a spiritual convergence.

The prophet Elijah said to the people of his day, Come near unto me. He knew that there was something that needed to happen that couldn’t happen without proximity. And he offered himself as a rallying point for that. Come near unto me. We don’t get the impression from the story of Elijah that he was lonely or needed more friends. There was the miracle of life to know among a group of people, and it wouldn’t transpire without spiritual closeness.

We have a vision for the future of humankind. It is based on who we are as a race and in our shared destiny. It is a vision of oneness, peace, justice, and prosperity for all people and the planet.

How is this vision fulfilled?

You may have a vision of well-being and harmony in your own life. How is that fulfilled? Realistically, where do you start? What steps do you take?

Oneness is a beautiful vision. But as a friend once said, nothing is happening as long as all you have is oneness. For dynamism—for Creation and manifestation—you need at least two.

Sece Foster recently commented that for there to be harmony between one person and another, there has to be harmony within the individuals, especially between their mind and heart. That happens when the thoughts of the mind and the emotions of the heart are open to Spirit. That’s what brings them together and establishes the basis for harmony internally. And it is what sets a person up for creative social interactions.

Jesus of Nazareth taught how this works:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  Matthew 18:20

He was speaking of Divine Presence and perhaps of his own Presence. It is a spiritual statement. I don’t think we expect to see a man in robes suddenly appear in the room when we hang out with another person. But his spirit could.

When a person feels and knows the Presence of Spirit, the heart and mind come together, and these two human capacities find they have gifts to give each other.

The mind has the gifts of understanding, forgiveness, and sight. And when we begin to see what’s happening in our own heart and see it from a place of non-judgment and acceptance, the heart can relax. It feels good when we stop tormenting ourselves with self-judgment.

Shouldn’t have done that. Shouldn’t have those memories. Shouldn’t have those feelings.

When we come to a place of acceptance of ourselves and our own emotional state, the heart begins to relax. The flow that is natural to the heart can then flow to the mind. The heart offers empowering energy. It discloses the information it carries. This is what sets a person up to have successful social engagements.

I could declare that we are all one. But that might short-circuit how we come to actualize the experience of that truth between us. There is something that has to happen for us to know oneness.

I could tell you, You should know oneness. Does that do any good? There’s a path that brings an experience of oneness. It is a path of communion. It is a path of gift-giving, spiritually speaking. It is having the generosity, curiosity, and courage to give the gift that is yours to give. And then it’s being willing to deeply receive the gifts that other people bring, even if they’re not conscious of them. It is appreciation expressed for what you are already receiving.

One of my favorite songs, “Leather and Lace,” tells of gift-giving between a man and a woman. It’s sung by Don Henley and Stevie Nicks and contains these lyrics:

Give to me your leather,
Take from me my lace.

The words are first sung by Stevie (a woman). A similar message could be sung by a man, even though it wouldn’t go well with the rhythm of the song:

Give to me your lace,
Take from me my leather.

It’s a bit of poetry, with lace as a symbol of femininity and leather as a symbol of masculinity. The song is about the gifts between a man and a woman. But to me, it has a larger meaning. And I know of no other song that states it so explicitly. Any two people brought near to each other by their openness to Spirit enter into an opportunity for gift-giving.

Give to me what you’ve got, whatever the gift is. 

You have gifts to give—spiritual gifts that are life-giving to the people around you. Don’t hide them.

Hang out. And then, through your openness, let yourself be brought into spiritual proximity with another person so those gifts can be transmitted. Those gifts may be gifts of feeling, ideas, inspiration, life energy, or simply the encouragement of another person. Come on, go for it!

Then there’s the gift of receiving what comes from another person, taking it in deeply. When you do that, you are drawing it out of them. You are perceiving the pure nature of the gift and welcoming it, even if it has become obscured by them in some way.

Give to me your leather,
Take from me my lace.

There is a reciprocity of gift-giving. It doesn’t work unless there is reception. There is a gift of the heart to give, and when gifts of the heart are given back and forth, they provide a medium through which Spirit shows up. And what is Spirit? It’s Presence. It’s creative power. And it is creative wisdom.

Somebody has to bring people together to experience spiritual intimacy. Someone has to be Elijah and invite others to come near. And if there is to be spiritual intimacy, another person has to respond to the invitation. Someone has to draw close spiritually and truly give the gifts they perhaps didn’t even know they had. And receive the gifts of another.

For me, this Pulse of Spirit is a way I give of myself. There is a certain amount of external effort to write it, but I am not referring to that. This Pulse of Spirit contains the creative essences of my soul. How would you like to receive it? What would you like to be your gift in return?

Here are two simple opportunities. Share yourself by writing your thoughts and feelings in response to this article at the bottom of the page here. Or share your appreciation for this series of articles by offering a donation to this work here.

Let us not fall prey to the global trend that is creating social isolation—that is stopping people from hanging out and knowing a life-giving spiritual interchange. Have faith that there are creative essences within your own heart and soul that would be a gift to other people. Find the gifts of the people around you and receive them deeply. Get back in touch with the urge within yourself to hang out and share yourself with others—all of you, perhaps not all at once, but over time.

The ultimate gift is who we are.

Let the gift-giving begin.

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laurence Mendes
laurence Mendes
March 3, 2024 12:27 pm

I found this gripping, life-changing from the moment I came across the the first utterance of it. For many many months I have embodied the Spirit of Elijah, standing still in Life, there’s far more to do in this. Whilst the Prophets of Baal cut themselves and cried out for their Lord who didn’t come, Elijah stood in true presence. I bow to Life and my passion to live and learn so often outweighs any fear. This address penetrates the world with great wisdom and common sense. Thank you.

David Barnes
David Barnes
March 2, 2024 11:25 pm

Your invitation to engage in this opportunity is much appreciated, David.

“Certainly I will be with thee.” These are words recorded as spoken by the LORD to Moses when, in a moment of hesitation, Moses apparently needed reassurance that he would not go alone or be alone in the fulfilment of his Commission and his Calling on earth. “Go and gather the Elders of Israel together, and say unto them … And they shall hearken unto thy voice.” And so it is in this day, as I receive the creative essences of your soul shared through the substance of your written words, with my own words here, “Certainly I am with thee.”

Go and gather the Elders of Israel — freely receive and freely give — and in the Reciprocity of Being, there comes the answering Call, “Certainly I will be with thee.”

Anne-Lise Bure
Anne-Lise Bure
March 2, 2024 2:28 pm

Thank you David, when I consider how many hours a week I ‘hang-out’ with colleagues, friends, family and Nature, I am more conscious of what it takes to wake up, be willing and courageous to ‘grow up’ and learn from others and my experiences; and to let ‘mature’ our unique primal spirituality. May we do this and create a ‘safe’ zone to share ourselves through the many challenges and beautiful experiences in Life. May we extend ’empathy’ to each other – holding hands as we walk each other to a fuller knowing of our true & authentic Selves. We all long to live in the Golden Zone of that experience, and it is at hand for us all. Thank you for this contemplation this week.

Fiona Gawronsky
Fiona Gawronsky
March 2, 2024 12:40 pm

David has drawn our attention to the plight of many young people who feel isolated, anxious, depressed, even suicidal. There are all too many with fractured families. People out of touch with their roots and origins. What memories do you have of your forebears, your grandparents? I think we need to feel an underlying narrative in our lives with the stories that families tell about one another. That it’s OK to be a bit of a character! That there is a continuum to life’s journey.

A piece of music unfolds in a sequence through time, unlike a piece of artwork that you can take in at a glance, although in its inception and production, time unfolds in the execution of the work. Surely, the symphony of one’s life is like this – I am the symphony of myself. Dissonance, resonance, loud or soft, it all adds up through the ages and stages, rites and passages.

Learn to be your own pilgrim. Shape the notes of the singing universe within. See with a grand perspective.

Howard Goodman
Howard Goodman
March 2, 2024 8:28 am

Thanks you David. I am loving the essences of my soul and the strength of Presence the gift of your Pulse of Spirit calls from me. Thank you for that!
I give you my Gravitas of presence to strengthen a mutual unifying love we know -Here is the all-seeing presence that gives to us all profound understanding Kindness and a forgiving generous love radiating out to all.

There is so much love and honour to be re-awakened. Hear the call sounding to remember who we truly are. I know this call sounds more keenly and clearly when we hang out together in this place of peace, exquisite beauty, a safe place for all, truly ‘a field beyond right and wrong doings’ … where we do all truly meet.

I welcome power and wonder of Higher Will, so filled with purpose, creativity, kindness and joy, freely given from the Presence of this place.

The call of Love goes out from all of us here – an abiding Peace of easy Oneness is in the atmosphere of this place where we all truly do belong. Lets hang out together here!

March 2, 2024 2:59 am

For me enduring The covid-19 pandemic offered both opportunity for more isolation and more time for just being… to balance out all the Doing. The awareness of a real need to connect more consistently in person in meaningful ways from that, lead me to sharing attunements with friends and neighbors each week. The use of Attunement cards in my men’s group, Drum troupe rehearsals and attunement times Has opened up a sweet space of Agreement together. Thanks So much for those and the consistent inspiration of the pulse of spirit, AMP, the creative field Groups, along with all the other amazing programs.

Mark Shulman
Mark Shulman
March 1, 2024 6:25 pm

I also struggle with receiving. I know that there is always response and attraction yet, sometimes allow my active mind to control rather than having the spirit flow through me. Those time when I let the spirit guide, I am richly blessed by receiving what others have for me.

Bob Ewing
Bob Ewing
March 1, 2024 6:21 am

My Creative Imagination and my Experience of sharing in Sunday Service with all of you allows me to Know that the greatest possible experience is the generation of Heaven on Earth. Meanwhile in all of my & our endeavors we know that “ If you don’t use it , you lose it.” I know in my heart of hearts and also from your friendship and invitation ,David , that their is a Promise that if I Give& Share the Highest Love Truth and Life, that the full symphony of Communion will manifest through all the dimensions. Trying to find safety & trust shrivels & isolates. Pouring out the Gift there is no fear , worry weakness vulnerability or lack, I’m careful not to impose “ I Love you” to new acquaintances,yet the genuine quality of my full spectrum presence with you and our family of friends welcomes all to come close celebrate this sacred place of “2 or More” Praise to the Source of Love”

Sece Foster
Sece Foster
February 29, 2024 10:09 pm

Thank you, David, for this important contemplation. It is truly in our nature to commune with one another and with the Source of all. Truly the best days of my life are days when I am in the flow of communion with others.

Jerry Kvasnicka
Jerry Kvasnicka
February 29, 2024 5:56 pm

It can be said that my spiritual work consists in constantly offering the invitation to “Come near unto me,” not just to me as another human form with a body and mind, but to me as the Presence of the One. Let us not merely share words and physical proximity, but let us commune together in Spirit, in the Oneness of Being, and thereby invite our worlds to do the same.

Kari Bye
Kari Bye
February 29, 2024 5:05 pm

Of all the things I learned about religion in my upbringing, most of it went in one ear and out the other. Yet, I felt that I belonged in my Christian culture. There was one thing that caught my attention: It was the way Jesus was meeting and hanging out with people as he wandered around in the Holy Land. His Presence always made a difference.

February 29, 2024 9:44 am

Thank you David

For the realistic pulse of Giving and Receiving.
I come from the South of the Netherlands where I am born.
It was naturely and normal there to leave your door open, so that people can come in for a drink or a talk.
Here in the North its different, in Amsterdam people are more isolated.
Luckely I live in a community where we share our garden and central places together,we work together to take care of it all.

So the giving and receiving contains making soup for each other,
Sharing meals, helping a friend and share the stories of our Lives!

Love Irene

Berry Behr
Berry Behr
February 28, 2024 8:39 pm

Thank you David for the reminder of the importance of receiving. I was surprised and a little embarrassed recently to receive an outpouring of love when I asked for advice. Surprise and embarrassment turned to awe at the generosity of spirit in my community. As I received the wisdom gifts of those around me I was filled with gratitude, and recognized the generative nature of receiving graciously: I was reminded that in giving we receive and in receiving we give. The lived experience is transcendent. Thank you for this beautiful Pulse that calls humanity back to each other.

February 28, 2024 7:41 pm

I have so many feelings around this…. I have spent so much time in Italy, where “hanging out” or “gathering” is a daily activity for all ages in every village in Italy…It happens around 4:30 every afternoon, it is called passagiata.. every Piazza fills with townspeople, and pass some time strolling, talking and sitting together.
This daily activity was a safety net for me in many ways… I knew where to go if I needed connection,
When thinking about what was the closest thing we in America do for this human need? I came up with some Starbucks that have the same daily gatherers.
Covid really ended that for a bit, but all the same… we really lack this need.
So…..let us gather and just be in awe of eachother!!!

February 28, 2024 6:56 pm

This is so meaningful and lovely David – thank you!!!

The ultimate gift is who we are.
Let the gift-giving begin.

And fortunately – on our Ranch – it is Let the gift-giving continue – lucky us!!!!

February 29, 2024 3:09 pm
Reply to  Katie-Grace

Deeply appreciate these communions.
Thank you!

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