The following article is the first of three pertaining to the importance of knowing one’s place in time and space. Human reality limits us to one specific place and moment. Technological developments tend to make us ignore these limits, or even attempt to break through them. Given this situation, the author invites us to develop a “theology of location”, to recognize the importance of temporal and spatial limitations with regards to human fulfillment and the accomplishment of our Christian mission.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”1

In today’s world, I feel like physical space is becoming an afterthought. It makes sense, since one of the joys of the internet is the fact that you can practically ignore the constraints of where you are. I noticed recently that I more often write “Hangouts” instead of a physical address in my agenda. More and more, it seems to me that is is good to be near others… but not really necessary.

If I live far from campus, I can either take online courses or drive.

If I want to save travel time, I can have my meetings on Skype without leaving the comfort of my home.

If I move further away, I may be able to keep my job and telecommute.

Like many people my age, I grew up giving little thought to the locations where my life events were taking place. To me, that was always secondary to the activity itself. Yet we are constantly influenced by our environment, whether we realize it or not. A classroom presses us to pay attention, and a round table encourages us to collaborate. Then add to that the aesthetic dimension. Just entering a trendy café makes me want to think about new ideas. If you’ve ever lived abroad or visited another country, you understand the power that a location can hold on daily life.

I spent the last nine years of my life using public transit for two hours each day. (If you are curious, it adds up to around 4230 hours.) At first it was for school, and then for work. Recently, I’ve moved closer to my work and have realized how what was happening in my surroundings had meant so little to me. Today, the lack of interest in what is going on around me seems to be light years away from a Christian view of the world.

Two years ago, I was in my room reading the first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, right before Advent. This passage speaks of Jesus’ incarnation on earth. The more I read, the more I felt frustrated because I did not understand why God acted this way: Why did God come that close to us? Wasn’t there another way to offer salvation to his people? Something less intense, or faster? No, it was impossible. Suddenly, it became clear to me: there can be no mission without getting closer.

Seized with emotion, it was as if I was standing on sacred ground. It was a divine moment that I still cherish today and triggered many major decisions that continue to shake me in my twenties.

Suddenly, it became clear to me: there can be no mission without getting closer.

I am continually learning what it means to be present, really present: being aware of where I am and attentive to those around me.

I believe that this is part of truly living our humanity as God desires it. Even more, I believe that it is a step in our spiritual growth. If we want to follow Jesus, the rabbi who roamed Palestine on foot, we must follow him fully, body and soul, into the world around us.2

1. John 1:14, NIV
2. To explore this topic further, here is a very interesting video.

Élizabeth has been on the Power to Change team for many years. During this time, she has worked with many students and young adults in Quebec’s post-secondary and university environments. She describes her unusual and often misunderstood role as this: chaplain. In other words, she is a spiritual guide in a non-religious establishment. You can read her articles (in French) on