On Being Present- 6-2016
On a magical trip to Spain this summer I was inspired to put down my phone and computer and enjoy all moments God had to offer. I should be honest my internet connection was spotty through the countryside of Spain. However, everywhere I had the pleasure of visiting, I was taken aback by the Spanish way of life to thoroughly enjoy a meal, delve into conversation, linger over great food, wine and lively company. I was blissfully unaware of my electronic devices and felt more alive, in the moment and truly engaged with my fellow travelers.
Human connection, something we all crave is the thing I feel slipping away in our culture.
I have always insisted that my children not bring their phones to the table or out to restaurants but more as an etiquette thing vs. a real motive of connection.
Last Sunday I went to mass out of town and was hanging on to my new found feeling of peace and in the moment experience. I noticed a young boy in a wheel chair highly impaired on a ventilator and immobile. When we see these things we often feel sympathy and perhaps fear as we consider how we may react in the same situation with our own children. This time instead of focusing on the plight of the young boy…I noticed his Father. I hesitate to use the word “Dad” in this illustration as this man really spoke “Father” to me. First on a hot day he was dressed in a suit for mass…(relatively unheard of today). The only way to describe the Father of this boy was “at one” with his son and the mass simultaneously. He sang the hymns to his son while stroking his head, he kneeled on the hard concrete aisle next to son during times of prayer, and responded to the readings while looking at his son and praying at the same time. The look of love was etched in his face but the way he carried himself was all at once a living prayer and testament to human connection. Not once did he pull out a phone to check the time, nor look around in boredom he just was completely present in the moment and was living it with his precious boy.
I was mesmerized by his devotion and my words will not give the moment its true beauty. The Father was calm in the midst of heavy medical equipment, poised in God’s house, and purely peaceful.
By contrast today as I sit in the airport I am at the end of a long table having some tea. On the other side of the table there is a Father and his two young children. The children (boy/girl preteens) are bubbling with excitement for their trip to California with Dad. I spoke to the boy and he was extremely animated and polite…wanting to share his excitement with someone…Dad was very busy on his phone and pushing away attempts at conversation. I struck up a conversation with the young boy (not usually like me as I am in a hurry in airports with little patience for conversation) I left the table feeling so connected to the little boy’s excitement and as I walked out of the restaurant he turned around and walked to the aisle to wave at me and said “have fun”..
His eyes followed me all the way to the gate with a smile on his face almost thankful that someone was there to acknowledge his excitement and almost curious as to why….
Weird but I felt a connection a virtual stranger after a 5 minute conversation and the smile he had from just sharing with me …will last all day for me.
Giving of our selves does not have to mean giving too much…and stressing our selves out with outward strains on our time…it can simply mean being present like the Father who was “with” his son at mass, like having a “real” conversation during a meal,
this type of giving is not taxing, tiring or resentful it is nourishing, and filled with love for both parties. I left the airport restaurant with a smile and thought of the FATHER at mass
What a metaphor for God’s love that I witnessed in the Father and son that day!