Three weeks ago in my world “zoom” was the noise a play airplane made when it zoomed around the room. Today “zoom” is a Parish Council and a staff meeting; it is a Bible study, spiritual direction, and “corporate” worship.

COVID-19 has changed the way we think about many things. It has certainly changed the way I think about talking to a computer screen. At the best of times I am a reluctant participant in the world of technology (see COVID Diary #2). But, I am learning to see the potential of social networking and communication technology at a time when people are unable to embody connection with physical presence.

In the early days of coronavirus I participated in a voice-only teleconference meeting. It was a powerful experience to hear voices I had not heard for over a week. The conversation was remarkably free and easy. We were able to share honestly and authentically and even to make two important decisions for the life of our community.

Then, like the rest of the world, I discovered “zoom.us” and began holding meetings in which I could see the other participants. It changes the nature of connection when we are be able to see the faces of the people with whom we are speaking.

As I have thought about the experience of “zoom.us” I have begun to wonder about the power of adding another layer of sense perception to the way I interact with people.

Paul wrote that we,

who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. (Romans 12:5, 6)

Many of us were raised on the Sesame Street worldview that focuses on the fact that “One of these things is not like the other.” We are trained to see difference, to discern by distinction and pigeon-hole everything into separate categories.

Paul acknowledges the reality of difference, and yet affirms that, beneath these differences, we are profoundly connected. Although we “are many” and “have gifts that differ”, we are “one body.” The challenge is to see this “one body” beneath the diversity that characterizes all of life.

What if there are further layers of sensation that I usually ignore or of which I am mostly unaware that might enable me to perceive what Paul calls the “one body in Christ”? Might there be subtle perceptual skills that could allow me to open to the reality of deep invisible inner connection?

My wife and I meet for a week most summers, and occasionally throughout the year, with a group of people who travel from various areas of Canada, the US and Europe to be together in retreat. We meditate, share in spiritual exchange, cook ane eat together, perform mindful work, and share in movements that aim to open us to a deeper awareness. COVID-19 has made some of these gatherings impossible. So, each Wednesday night during this unsettled time, we have committed to sit at the same hour in meditation. As we sit in silence, I wonder if there is something even deeper than the senses with which we usually practice relationship, that links us in the mystery of silence.

Perhaps this COVID crisis is an opportunity to practice opening to an awareness of the bonds that connect us across countries and continents. Perhaps in silence and stillness we will discover a perceptivity growing in us that is able to sense the mystery of human connection beneath the surface appearances of those differences that so often seem to divide. Perhaps there is a deeper way of connecting than even zoom.us can provide.