Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 8

1 Corinthians 12 v 12 – 28

I often read Eddie Skew’s books of meditations that he published for the Leprosy Mission. In one of his early books (1990) he referred to a book he had read called ‘The Naked Ape’ in which body language had been explained.

Body language is an almost primeval form of non-verbal communication that we, and according to scientific research, apes and Chimpanzees share. Through body language we can interpret how one another feel or even how we think, without speaking. It’s a sub conscious way of communication.

It reminded me of a time when I was gainfully employed and Nottingham City Council saw it necessary to send me on a training course on ‘People Management Skills’. ( were they trying to tell me something?). Part of the course related to ; – yes you guessed it, body language.    I recall the consultant telling us how to recognise satisfaction, concern, lack of personal challenge and stress in our work colleagues through observing their body language, e.g. smiles, furrowed brows, yawning and throwing paper darts each other. A particular area of concern was emphasised in interviewing for new members of staff. Did the candidate have clenched fists, was the candidate biting their bottom lip, was the candidate tapping their feet? If so it is likely that they are nervous!!! I must add that the consultant was being paid a healthy fee for delivering this training course.

There was a serious point that, body language, together with other factors can identify symptoms of stress before it escalates into serious issues.

Of course this form of communication (body language) falls down, when we experience social separation or social distancing. Our visual contact is considerably reduced so we need an alternative method of communication, and that’s where technology comes in.

Modern technology is amazing, all embracing, challenging and in my case confusing.

Have you ever thought how different the Bible stories would be if they had the same technology then as we have now? How much easier would it have been for the Hebrew people to cross the wilderness with a Sat Nav? The Ten Commandments could have been distributed across the entire nation at the press of a button. The Dead Sea Scrolls would have been on a memory stick, and the Hebrew nation being guided by a cloud would have a whole new meaning, (I don’t understand that one but my 13 year old grandson will).

The present crisis has affected the lives of everyone but the use of modern technology has greatly reduced the impact of the restrictions on a major sector of the community. The lives of the majority of families revolve around a computer screen in one form or another. We communicate by computer, we share by computers, we order our food by computer, we worship with each other by computer, we even receive our Pause for Thought by computer.

It’s a long way from the primeval form of non- verbal body language.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12 v 12-28) reminds us that we are the Body of Christ, so if we are the body should we have a body language? Are there signs, indicators, or even gestures that articulate our beliefs, our faith and our discipleship in following our Lord Jesus Christ? I’m not just talking about wearing an Ictus (fish) on our lapel or even a crucifix around our neck, creditable as they are, but a body language that speaks out and declares that I am a follower of Christ?

I suppose we already have such a body language in our way of life. A true follower of Christ must love God with all their heart and soul, love their neighbour as themselves even if that neighbour is their enemy, care for the poor and sick and lonely, stand up for freedom and equality. A follower of Jesus Christ must be Christ like and live as Jesus taught us to live. That is the body language of a follower of Jesus.

In the past few weeks I’ve been introduced to an App called ‘Zoom’. It enables users to see and hear each other on multiple screens at the same time. Although I’ve been introduced to ‘zoom’, we are not yet engaged and a long way from being married, you could say, but like all partnerships I suppose we have to work at it.

While writing this Pause for Thought, I had a telephone conversation with an old colleague who I’ve known since first coming to Derby. This year, his wife has become so ill that she has been admitted into a care home on a permanent basis. During the month preceding the present crisis my friend discovered he needed urgent hospital treatment resulting in hospital visits every day for a month. As his treatment concluded social separation commenced, accordingly he has not seen his wife for a month.

I explained the benefits of ‘zoom’ to him in case he wished to try it.

 He asked, ‘can I hold her hand?’ I replied ‘no’.

 He asked, ‘can I wipe her mouth when she’s eaten her lunch?’ I replied ‘no’.

 He asked ‘can I kiss her forehead when I leave her?’ I replied ‘no’.

He replied, ‘thank you but it’s not much good for me is it’.  

It just goes to show that even ‘zoom’ is not the panacea to all problems.

Derek T.