Fortunately, we keep old board games in the basement, as well as Sun Chips in bulk, because that's where we hang out when the tornado siren goes off, like it did last Wednesday. It's been a real storm fest around these parts - in fact I think I hear rumbling now. Nothing makes me feel so small and vulnerable as a "bolt upright in bed" sized roar of thunder.
So I've been thinking about this quote lately:
"As Christians we are here to affirm the supreme value of direct sharing, of immediate encounter —not machine to machine, but person to person, face to face."—Bishop Kallistos [Ware] "The Mystery of the Human Person"
It is convicting, yes, in a day and age where most of our associations are fostered via technology – where flaws are easily hidden and criticism emboldened by that buffer of sterile distance separating each of us from the complicated humanity of one another. On the other hand, this quote is freeing and inspiring. It's good to be reminded that laying aside your chores (and self-consciousness) and inviting your neighbors, that new family at church, your co-worker, over for dinner – over to your less than perfect home where your children, though you've taught them otherwise, interrupt and bicker exposing their childishness, where your table is set with silver forks, red handled IKEA spoons and mismatched salad bowls, where laughter is shared over glasses of box wine and connections are made despite the differences between you – is not only okay but downright imperative, spiritually speaking.
I need to fill this house, my life, with touchable flesh and blood guests and acquaintances lest I forget in this era of the internet, how humbling and rewarding it is to nurture relationships with face-to-face empathy, patience, forgiveness and hard-working love. I believe Christ is in that effort, in the "inconvenience" of listening and serving, in the healing warmth of being really and truly cared for (fully visible warts and all) by a friend.
Again, as with most of these issues I poke and prod mentally and emotionally, it all comes down to balance – to praying for wisdom. There is a time for sending e-mails and a time for picking up the phone; there is holiness to be found in the "immediate encounters" we recognize as opportunities for spreading firsthand the light and hope of Christ.
And there is a time for getting schooled by my seven-year-old in a round of Trouble, in the basement, while the thunder booms reminding me LOUDLY and clearly of God's omnipotence.