Building connections with others is essential to our quality of life. Each connection creates a window into the world that allows us to broaden our individual perspective. It is interesting to reflect upon all the ways that we connect within creation.
Consider the power of technology. Every time we turn on a light or charge our phones, tablets or computers, we are sharing the energy of the earth. These devices allow us to connect in unique and innovative ways with others. We have the ability to receive family updates and current news events in a timely manner from both within our communities and around the world.
It is amazing to see the impact of a direct connection and conversations through FaceTime with friends and family. Technology allows loved ones who are miles away to connect in real time. This opportunity is a blessing for grandparents who are separated from their grandchildren by long distances to actively participate in their grandchildren’s activities and develop more meaningful relationships. A recent television advertisement even had a grandfather outsmarting the grandchildren in the game “Words with Friends.”
So, how are your connections? I know seniors who call a friend daily to connect and share updates. Many continue to meet on a regular basis with their high school or college classmates. Still others who have retired continue to connect with their co-workers. Restaurants have created an environment of new connections where people meet daily for coffee, breakfast and great discussion. Some people are involved in volunteer activities. Women who crochet or quilt gather to make clothing and blankets for others. Groups also gather to exercise at the gym. People connect to build and renovate houses for Habitat for Humanity. Even gathering with others to cook for community meals is a great way to build connections, have fun and make a difference in the lives of others.
How do the connections with family and friends that you have created bring a sense of joy and peace into your life?
Social Connections for Longer Lives
A person’s social connections have been identified as an important factor in quality aging. Dan Buettner, in his book “The Blue Zones, 2nd Edition: 9 Lessons For Living Longer” shared a study published by Professor Lisa Berman of Harvard University on social connectedness and longevity. He noted in one study, Professor Berman “looked at the impact of marital status, ties with friends and relatives, club membership and level of volunteerism on how well older people aged. Over a nine-year period, she found that those with the most social connectedness lived longer. Higher social connectedness led to greater longevity.”
Buettner noted, “The type of social connectedness was not important in relation to longevity — as long as there was connection.”
Identifying social connections as a spiritual practice challenges people to develop relationships on a deeper level. As loved ones, family, friends or companions begin to connect, they share life experiences. Over time, a unique bond slowly becomes interwoven within the relationship. This connection allows a space to extend God’s grace, a growing sense of mutuality and the flow of deep respect, care and nurture. Alan Jones, dean of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, defines spirituality as “the art of making connections.”
As we continue to identify various spiritual practices, people’s greatest challenge is to identify which practice invites their souls to grow more deeply. These practices will open ourselves to the transformative connective power of God’s love and grace. Blessings on your spiritual journey.