In our church people generally sit in approximately the same places each week. It reminds me of growing up when Mum and Dad always sat at their established ends of the table, with the kids lining the sides in predetermined spots. These days Dave and I have set sides of the bed on which we sleep: I'm on the left, he is on the right.
Established spots have practical advantages, but they also operate to keep things predictable. It’s a kind of subconscious agreement; a cooperation with everyone else in the room that says, “Let’s just keep things the same. I won’t change if you don’t change.”
I have been reading Martin Buber’s ‘I and Thou’, which is about relationship. So often we relate to others as an ‘It’. We have decided what they are like based on our past experiences of them; they are contained by our limited imaginations. When we relate to others as ‘Thou’, however, we see them as part of a much greater eternal reality, where anything is possible.
Our fused places at church, at the dinner table, in bed are physical manifestations of the limits we place on ourselves and each other, where we decided who we were and the roles we played long ago.
What happens when we switch it around? What if I shift slightly, and some dormant seed suddenly has room and sunlight in which to bloom?