There's a small town that sits inside the Georgia/South Carolina border. It's a rural community. Some would even call it country. I was amazed as I watched them at work.
My father had just taken his last breath. Within the hour the pastor, his wife, two deacons and a church member were at the door. They stayed with us until we were settled. The next day phone calls began. A steady stream of visitors, food and phone calls came for days. People wanted to see Mom, hug her, hear from her, know she was OK. I have never been hugged and loved on by so many strangers in my life.
I got in my car to leave after my 6 day stay knowing my mother would not be living alone. She would have people around her, not at a distance, but up close and personal. Her community would make the effort to visit, call, ask her to dinner. It makes a difference, especially at a time like this.
I too live in a small rural Georgia town, but it's a different generation. E-mails and Facebook messages, are often the chosen method of communication. Technology often replaces face to face encounters. I am guilty.
I was born in 1957. Though I do not consider myself old, I'm old enough to remember how things used to be. There have been some remarkable improvements to life as we know it. I remember rotary phones, party lines, three television channels that shut down at midnight.
The first cell phone was invented when I was a sophomore in high school. It would be years before they entered households. I didn't use my first computer until age 24 while working for a doctor. Only the wealthy had them in their homes. There was no such thing as the internet.
Life was much simpler back then. There was no such thing as electronic games. Children played for hours outside, making up games, and inventions. We were never at a loss for something to do.
We had each other, and childhood friends. It was common to gather together with other families. We didn't have relationships over the computer, we had them face to face.
It all came to me as I watched this little community gather around our family. They are the older generation. They are not hooked into technology. They live face to face.
I’ve often tried to find words to explain what I felt was missing for me, but couldn’t ever get it out right. Watching what transpired that weekend, put the longings of my own heart into words. I long for face to face relationships. In the midst of all this improved technology something’s changed? Life has taken over, people are busy. E-mailing and Facebooking is easier. It doesn't require as much time or effort.
It makes me wonder what God thinks about it all. After all, we were made in the image of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit gathered together at creation. The most important thing to Him is relationship. He invites us to relate with Him. He tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Can we really love that person in our community through an Email, alone? Can we weep with those who weep through a text or Facebook message?
My husband reminds me of a scene in “We Were Soldiers”. A taxi would drive up to the house with a telegram and a stranger. The stranger would deliver the news of the soldier’s death. The Colonel’s wife got wind of it. She wouldn’t leave the women alone in their grief. She would deliver the messages. She would mourn with the widow, hug her, take care of her children. She would be the hands and feet of Jesus.
What’s happened to us in this generation? Things that were created to simplify our lives, have stolen life’s simplicity. We wrestle with busyness and distractions while life lived in close relationships in the flesh, slips by.
As I sat at home, grieving the loss of my dad with my Email and Facebook messages, something was missing for me. I missed the face to face encounters. I missed the hugs. I missed the eyes that showed they cared.
We can learn from the small community in Hartwell, GA. I can learn from them. They are the hands and feet of Jesus to one another. It makes a difference in lives. I know, I experienced it. As they embraced my mother, they embraced me. It was love at it's finest. Well done, Hartwell, Ga, well done!
And the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:39
***P.S.... Just wanted to say, I am SO grateful for my "cyberspace" friends... It amazes me that I have friends all over the world.. Though I cannot see you face to face, I see you heart to heart..a true gift!
©copyrighted: 2009 Julie L. Todd