I do my best writing and thinking at about 5 to 10 feet beneath the surface. I do my best anything at that level. Getting to that level is a choice, and sometimes a chore, but it’s worth the effort.
At the surface I’m distracted by the white noise of conversations, and even of conversations that I’m not engaged in but know that are long overdue. Also at the surface is the fragmentation of emails, facebook requests, phone calls, text messages – all the electronically based social networks that allow anti-socials to experience pseudo-community.
At the surface are too many people. By “too many” I simply mean that the more people we try to divide ourselves among, the fewer any of those people get to know the real us. Each of these “too many” is a wonderful creation by a Wonderful-er Creator. But at the surface we are not capable of paying attention to anyone when we try to pay attention to everyone.
That’s why digging and living and breathing beneath the surface is so vital. Beneath the surface is where we, first, get to know the “us” that God did such a wonderful job weaving and knitting together. Then – and only afterwards – are we able to invite a few others beneath the surface to get to know the real “us” while also peering into the real “them” that God wants us to discover in others.
When we dig deep, we are digging through a lot of dirt. When we invite others to join us beneath the surface, we are not asking them to take a sterile elevator down to a new depth; unfortunately they, too, will end up with our life’s dirt under their fingernails. But that’s the real us – beautiful creations made from the dirt of the earth. When we dig deep, we are simply returning to our pre-Fall, perfect origins.
I “dig” best with a pen and journal, not a shovel. Other tools I use to dig deeply are the thin-yet-living pages of my Bible…especially the psalms. A couple days ago I found the well-worn handle of an ancient prayer that helped me work my way beneath the surface as I meditated on its relevance to my life. Last Friday my wife and I had a lunch date in a crowded restaurant, but we dug into a deep conversation, fencing off the white noise of the many around us. One more tool: I’ll often dig with good, hot coffee because I’ve found you gotta slow down to enjoy coffee, and slowing down is required to go beneath the surface. What helps you get beneath the surface where you can rediscover the real you?
I know when I’ve dug deep enough when I get to, like I said, about 5 to 10 feet under. I don’t mean this literally, of course, but rather to say that I have to dig deep enough that I die to the surface world in order to find life in the self-death discovered about, give or take, 6 feet under.