Confluence Journal – Spring/Summer 2018 Call for Submissions: Right Relationship
For nearly two years now, across three issues, Confluence has grown from the fertile soil of Youth Passageways, seeking to uplift an impulse central to this community: that we are greater as a collective than on our own; that there is power at the crossroads, the confluence…of different beliefs, purposes, and dreams. In engaging that impulse, our network has weathered, as any community does, the conflicts and opportunities for growth that come with the territory. Indeed, it is from within that weathering that story begins to grow.
Our story, and the theme of this first issue in our third Volume, is one of relationships, and beyond that, of our living and fallible attempt to be in right relationship. Endeavoring toward a shared equity and alignment is not a process best understood in terms of success and failure. It is instead the persevering attempt to be in integrity—with one another, with the world around us, and with the great mysteries within ourselves.
Rites of passage center the passing of values, histories, and experiences to the coming generation—those who are then asked to channel the energy, capacity, and vitality of their very communities. An essential part of that process is determining what stones must be moved, what wounds named, what healing accomplished, and what must remain what and where it is. This is the infinitely delicate and utterly necessary work of deep listening that enables our young people to develop into fully informed human beings with established and recognized identities. Just as importantly, it allows them to understand and curate healthy boundaries and good ways of opening or maintaining them.
Without these practices, in the face of conflict or confusion, we tend toward the binary—to either insulate from or incorporate into whatever is in proximity to us. One pole of that binary is to ‘other’ by creating barriers instead of boundaries, affirming who we are through opposition or even vilification of what or whom we perceive to be different. The other pole is to ‘bypass’—to attempt to make everyone or everything immediately equal or universal, ignoring the history, context, and dynamics of power operating within us.
In thinking about the idea of ‘right relationship’, we (the editorial team) tend to opt for the both and—the bridge between—which, in this case, we call the unknowable. In explanation, the poet Rilke—a favorite of ours—offers this:
“A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”
In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke invites us to consider what it would look like to truly live side by side with those we call family and those who repel us. What would it mean to consider all that we don’t and can’t ever know about another to be a vital part of how we orient in relationship to them? Within that thought, a bridge seems to beckon. It asks us to consider seeing ourselves as a heterogeneous whole, made comprehensive because of our differences; a whole that makes room for the connections as well as the expanses that exist among us.
So, as we embark on a new year, we ask: What is right (or wrong) relationship to you? We invite you to reflect on the ‘expanses’ that exist between you and others as well as within yourself. What connections have you forged in spite of, or, in fact, because of them? Deeper still, we ask you to consider what it means to be in ‘right relationship’ with your body, spirit, community . . . cosmos.
As always, we hope this call inspires you as it has us, and we look forward to your submissions of poetry, short fiction, essay, film, image, painting, or music—we want it all. We are interested in thought and expression and connection, no matter what forms they may take. We will value your work for its strength of character and for its contribution to the issue’s exploration of its theme.
Confluence Journal Editorial Team