In the last week I have Skyped with family in Texas, talked on the phone with a pastor friend in North Carolina, messaged/chatted with a good friend in California, kept up with family in Tornado Alley via Facebook, uploaded student sermons to a limited access YouTube account so they could see them and share them with friends/family, received an update from a former student by email about their approval for ordination, and connected to an old friend by seeing their retweet of a message on Twitter. Yesterday, my friend in Ohio was driving in Michigan and got lost – she called me and I went on my laptop to Google the address she was searching for, then mapped her route and got her to her appointment with turn-by-turn directions on the phone. It was a hoot. We laughed about it until I almost cried.
Sometimes living in a state far from family and longtime friends is tough. When our son had an end of the year school concert – I wanted my parents (his grandparents) here. When my spouse had a medical test—I wanted their mom to be here. When I was installed as a professor at my seminary—I wanted my best friends and family here. When my friend needed me to help them through a crisis—I wanted to be with them to hold their hand. Unfortunately, the miles kept all of us away from one another physically.
There are times when the miles seem insurmountable. It seems like I am missing my niece’s lives as they graduate and play sports that I am not there to see. It seems like my friends are constantly experiencing things that I would love to witness and be there for. It seems like the miles are a gulf when holiday after holiday I am separated from those I love. But then there are those amazing times when they seem to melt away. I am reminded that connections are connections – whether emotional, physical or psychological.
Amazingly, my parents saw my son’s concert via Flip, Facebook, and Youtube. My spouse’s mom got a call minutes after the positive medical test came back. And pictures of my installation popped up almost immediately after the event on a seminary blog. My friend got to her lunch appointment almost on time. And my hurting friend felt relief talking to me on the phone. None of these situations were completely the same as they would be together, but it felt so good to have these moments. I really felt a personal and emotional connection in all of them.
Modern technology makes it possible to witness the amazing header scored in a state soccer game by my niece, to send video of my son’s concert far away, to talk to my hurting friend many states away, to guide my friend to her appointment, and to visit with my folks whenever I want and see them on Skype while we talk.
But connections are more that these technological moments – I am connected to them by personal experiences, lasting memories, amazing interactions over a number of years, and in so many other ways. Some I am connected to by blood and others are family and friends by choice. So whether I talk to them personally or see them in person – the connections are still there, still real, and still important. I am connected to them by faith and by a God who loves us all. I am connected as we are a family of faith –committed to each other in ways no distance can cancel out.
We are connected … and I thank God for those connections every day of my life.