I love the unflinching atheism of Sartre and other existentialists, but one of my favorite existential thinkers happened to be Christian: Gabriel Marcel. Particularly, I love his three, inter-worked concepts of presence, availability, and creative fidelity. To keep things brief:
- Presence is that state of being so familiar to monks and artists where you are wholly invested and engaged with the world around you.
- Availability is a state of openness, within presence, so that you are able to recognize opportunities and important connections with others as they happen.
- Creative fidelity is, to be simplistic, action and constant work to maintain presence and availability for others, so that we may see others clearly. Instead of creating a necessarily false representation of a person as we begin to know them well, we do the work to remain present and available as they change.
I must be content in my very slow process of developing these skills. Perhaps you would find them helpful, too. My favorite way to practice is to have engaging dialectical conversations with others about the topics we care about.
Allow me to extend to you a standing invitation. I am interested in holding open office hours every Saturday, during which I would love to be surprised by a meaningful discussion of whatever is on your mind. Perhaps you have read something that inspires you, perhaps you have gone through a major life change, or perhaps you would like to keep it real with an organic, heart-felt conversation.
I will be there, reading a book or writing my thoughts and enjoying an afternoon coffee boost, every Saturday from 2:30-3:30 pm, at Lucie Monroe’s in Christiansburg. Please come find me – drop on in.