The Covenant of Relational Intimacy Part 2

So what does the modern covenant look like? How do we swear to one another that we will stand against all peril, keep vigil and give solace when they are needed? The answer to this question changes with each individual experience. Though the word covenant means to cut a thing which is eaten, (break bread, offer sacrifice, feast,) its inherent meaning slices far deeper. Covenant is an act of coming together to prove we are not alone, that our individuality does not ensure loneliness and isolation. Covenant is the promise that someone, be it God, our spouse or our best friend, will always be there no matter what. Covenant is seen as a necessary component to relational intimacy because it is the promise of security, safe passage and safe harbor in a world fraught with storms.

How do you create a sense of safety, home and community in an ever expanding world? We must turn again to the covenant of relational intimacy, the sworn loves, fidelities and friendships that guide us, house us and keep us feeling safe.  Humans are born to enter covenants, to make packs, swear oaths, to love and care for one another, and to protect at the risk of personal sacrifice. Within true covenant friendships are not allowed to slip away.

The covenant of relational intimacy is the single most important thing you will do in life. Now we have the opportunity to do this on a global scale. Create community in every way you can. Educate yourself about the lands, beliefs and lives of others. Take advantage of this momentous time by immersing yourself in the flow of humanity; be it through twitter, spirituality or travel. Make time for conversation, even if you’re in a rush. Stop to ask a person how they are then take the time to really listen to their answer. Each interaction will feed your soul and expand your awareness of your place in the world.

I look forward to knowing you in this fast moving and fascinating time, maybe over coffee, maybe through the web. In the meantime, I’ll write about your loves, your courage and your covenants. I’ll write about the honor and strength it takes to become the person you were put on this planet to be. I’ll write about your losses and joys as our lives continue to weave through this modern age. It is our shared universal covenant that is the greatest epic story in the cosmos.

The Covenant of Relational Intimacy Part 1

Blood is thicker than water, what does this really mean? In the book The Blood Covenant, by H. Clay Trumbull, a ‘blood covenant’ is a blood ritual more binding than familial ties. Under a blood covenant you remain your father’s son, your mother’s daughter, but your true allegiance rests with your sworn sisters, your blood brothers; the men or women you would die for without question.

As a child I became blood sisters with my friend Stephanie. We cut our thumbs, rubbed the cuts together and knew we’d never be apart. I lost Stephanie from my life eighteen months later and have passed years without once thinking of her. Why did I so easily accept her loss? Why did I allow her to fade into nothing more than a foot note in my history?

At the time my world felt too big, my community was scattered, my days fogged in by the names and faces of people I would never see again. I told myself that if I had been born in a village construct, raised in the intimacy of extended family, then perhaps I would not have handled the loss of my blood sister with such silent resignation. With an ideal home life I believed I would have fought her loss, grieved her absence, prayed for her in absentia instead of allowing her name to pass from my mind. Why did I feel such resignation to loss? Why did the memory of our friendship fade to indifference?

Desperate for answers and a sense of community I spent years in various churches, joined groups, went to parties only to feel as alone as when I first set out to find “My People.” This search for relational intimacy, for my place in the world, led me on a search for knowledge, for community, and for the home I longed for. What I found after years of wandering is a very simple truth. We have evolved sociologically beyond our original communal constructs. Our small village idea of community has opened to a world experience because of population density, global media exposure and our beloved internet. So many people pass through our lives that it is impossible to keep them all close, yet you can grieve their individual loss and love them in the moment.

In part two, I will discuss how covenant has remained an integral part of human relationships.

The Importance of Relational Intimacy

Society is centered on money and prestige. It’s that simple. Even if you were born a happy hippy kid raised on granola and kisses, by now you know that money=prestige=success in western culture. Our cultivated egos value expensive cars, big houses, designer clothes, and exotic destinations. From the moment we mature to the moment we die, the framework of our life is corrupted by the idea that material achievement is a necessary component of happiness.

We are the wealthiest society in the history of creation. This fact alone should ensure our happiness, and yet we are stressed and depressed because we place our values on things that will never love us back. We cultivate riches instead of enriching the relationships that heal us.

Western culture’s definition of mental health coincides with the dominant values of our culture: autonomy, independence and wealth. We are raised in this isolated society to stand alone, be rugged individuals and to be capitalist ground-breakers.  A healthier way of being productive would be to move, work and create within relationships. I am reading the book Silencing the Self, Women and Depression by Dana Crowley Jack and I agree with Dana that it is natural, not needy, to look for intimacy in relationships; to cleave to a lover, friends, family and community for support.

Women are far more injured by our western role models because a woman is raised to seek intimacy in relationship, to communicate her feelings, to trust in and nurture others. A man is raised to strike out on his own, to keep his feelings subdued, and to be strong, decisive and courageous. This male role model does not mesh well with the intimacy seeking communicative female model. The sad truth is that men need intimacy just as much as women do; they just aren’t raised to know it.

All of my manuscripts are based on the importance of relational intimacy. As a writer of woman’s fiction, I am constantly looking for new ways to show the beauty of deep sustaining love; between friends, lovers, brothers-in-arms, or sisters of a common cause. Nothing we do in life is more important than the people whose lives we touch with care. Intimacy unearths pain, supports healing and is more valuable than any amount of gold. You cannot take your riches with you to heaven, but you can take the love and compassion you’ve invested in others.