Instead it found us where we stood. It looked us in the eyes. And through the cage that held it captive the orangutan held out a stick for us to grab hold of. In the picture above my son is holding one end of the stick as the orangutan held the other. I held the stick too and so did others.
I was amazed that this primate was so actively interested in connecting with us. And when it held out the stick and I grabbed hold of the other end I felt a sense of connection with this animal.
I thought about how connection bridges the gap between two people. That stick bridged the gap between the orangutan and others even though there was a chain link wall between them.
How many of us have man-made walls built up preventing us from true connection with others? I believe there is always a hole somewhere in the wall that, if only sought out, is penetrable by either the connector or the connectee.
The connector is the one who values the importance of connecting because someone at some time in their past cared enough to stick out a stick and connect with them. They are better people because of this past connection.
The connectee is the one who grabbed hold of the stick that was being offered. They were desperate enough to admit they had a need and brave enough to receive what was being offered. They have finally figured out that they are unable to handle life on their own.
Dr. John Townsend, in his book Loving People says, "connecting is not a luxury; it is a necessity, a requirement for life."
Connection is a "heart-to-heart attachment that goes beyond knowing about someone to actually knowing that person." (Townsend)
I wonder how many people in our circles have never had that heart-to-heart connection? How many women can go to a baby shower or ladies luncheon and still feel a sense of loneliness and isolation and then go home where the emptiness is only magnified?
'We were meant to be able to sustain and keep a sense of being loved, even when alone." (Townsend) But we will not be able to do that if we continue to avoid feelings of connection with others that make us uncomfortable. This means taking risks with people. I know it is easier for me to type these words than it is for you to really apply them, but there are loved people waiting to love on you. And they are willing to take the risk to connect with you because someone took the risk to connect with them.
Someone may be holding out a stick and it is time for you to receive what is being offered.
Or maybe you need to take the risk, face your fears, and hold the stick out yourself. Townsend says, "We are to find and attach ourselves to emotionally healthy people who can help us finish the job of being a loved person." These people have let pain become their teacher and will help you find the good that can heal what happened with the bad.
Connection is a two-way street, but you are not going to get anywhere behind the walls that cage you in. And you cannot be a connector with others in their pain if you have never been the connectee with someone who helped you in your pain. You can't give what you have never received yourself.
Blessings to you as you process through these words. For those that live behind the walls of safety, may you find the courage to reach out. "You run a greater risk of avoiding a good life than you do of getting hurt again." (Townsend) And for those of you who know what it is like to live in a state of being loved, may you be encouraged to continue holding out the stick for the lonely and isolated in your midst.
P.S. We also got a thumbs up!