Sometimes when I’m gathered with a group of people, either in a physical space or on a Zoom screen, I’m aware that the influence of additional people is present during that time. Embedded in everyone’s relationships, there are hidden conflicts, attachments, and places of grief that influence that time. But most often, I like to think about the meaningful, formational influences that are present.
There are people who have participated in fashioning who we are along with our values, hopes, and even mannerisms or ways of phrasing our words. Their influence is in that space too because these people are part of who we are. They have “particularized us;” that is, they have made us more specifically who and how we are. When we are present, their influence is present too.
And this means when we are connected to people in a physical space or on a Zoom screen, we have the occasion to interface with the influences of others too. We are impacted meaningfully by people we cannot see and in most cases by people we have not known ourselves.
When we are aware of people beyond us, we feel more connected, and often, we can be inspired. Consider this post an invitation to reflect intentionally about whose influence is also in the room. And if we know people well enough, we might even ask.