Food, water and shelter are universal needs that transcend borders, age, gender, race, class and religion. But a visit to www.Other6.com is enough to demonstrate that human beings hunger and thirst for something less tangible but more profound: the presence of God.
On any given day at the site, you’ll find a South African man seeking conversation and inspiration, or a grieving Chicagoan asking for strength following the recent deaths of three family members. They—and hundreds of other people—are finding hope, enlightenment and solace on Other6, an innovative web site launched by Loyola Press for people of all faiths who desire deeper meaning in their daily lives. Father Paul Campbell of the Jesuits’ Chicago Province says he modeled Other6 after the Examen of St. Ignatius Loyola, a daily spiritual reflection. “I wanted to capture the heart of the exercise and put it out on the Web,” he says.
A native of Belfast, Campbell began serving in the Irish Province in Dublin. “The Irish Jesuits launched Sacred Space, which has become a hugely successful online prayer experience,” he says. “Other6 drew inspiration from that. I wanted to find a way to contribute to the mission by going beyond the normal borders of where we served.” The goal, according to Campbell, is not only to reach out to alienated, disaffected Catholics but to those who aren’t Catholic at all. “One of the things I’ve learned from Sacred Space is that people appreciate the fact that they’re being honored for their spiritual journey, no matter how far along they are,” he says. “People were thankful that there was extreme respect for their experience—and no yelling or preaching.”
Through Other6, Campbell invites visitors to begin a conversation and ultimately, achieve a closer relationship with God. When asked about the site’s name, Campbell explains, “Some of us find God in church on Sundays, but where does He bubble up in your life the other six days of the week?”
Visitors to the site are met with a cluster of light and dark blue bubbles and two challenge questions: Where have you found God today and Where do you need to find God today? The dark blue bubbles represent visitors’ answers to the first question; the light blue ones refer to the second question. “It’s a very user-friendly site and completely anonymous,” Campbell notes. “Just click on the bubbles to join the conversation.” He adds the site has the ability to group responses if they pertain to a certain topic, such as family, work, or health. “We’re beginning to see communities being built around topics like national concerns, addiction, and depression—that’s a really big one,” he says. “Over time, the idea is for people to have a journal of where they have found God and they can access that log whenever they need it.”
In the few months since launching Other6.com more than 2,000 postings about peoples’ experience of God have cropped up from all across the United States and around the world. Among those who’ve stopped by are people from Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Spain, England, Belgium, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines. “People find God everywhere—it’s amazing where He can be found!” says Campbell.
Desperate to Find God
A recent entry that made an impression on him involved a father writing about his son. “This man said he found God in his son’s eyes. As a priest without a wife or children, it was touching for me to read that,” he says. “More than a dozen other people responded to that posting, so it obviously struck a chord with others.” Campbell says people are also desperate to find God in their relationships. “I find great consolation in hearing from husbands and wives who discover God in their relationship, even when they’re struggling through difficult times.” He says the workplace is another setting where people need God. “I’m lucky to love my job—it’s never boring. But I’ve been struck to see how many people struggle to find God at work, especially in their co-workers.”
But Campbell says finding God is not the problem. “He always finds us, we just need to tune in to Him,” he says. “I have this image sometimes with my cell phone: It can be ringing in my pocket, but we need to be aware that it’s ringing and pick it up. God is constantly calling us—the phone is always ringing.”
Help Along the Way
The web site doesn’t claim to have the answers to life’s problems but it’s a place where people can turn, according to Molly Hart, director of communications for Loyola Press and a member of the Other6 team. “Whether you’re experiencing a troubled situation or a joyful time, the site has the power to touch your life,” she says. “When people go on the site, they’re trying to find something and hopefully, we help them along the way.”
Sixty-year-old Seumas of South Africa regularly uses the site for what he calls “a simple but lovely way to thank the Lord.” Others try to draw comfort from those with shared experiences. “When they know they’re not alone, people can be open, honest and vulnerable, and talk about the deepest parts of themselves,” says Campbell. In addition to leaving a comment, he encourages visitors to look at other people’s bubbles and apply the discussion to their own lives. “The desire to find deeper meaning in what we do every day is in the human heart, but the awareness of it can get crowded out by the business of our lives,” he says. “Other6 is the tap on your shoulder—or the tug on your sleeve—to remind you that God loves you and desires to be close to you.”