New Jersey was cold in the winter (That’s putting it mildly if anyone remembers the blizzard of ’96. Good year for the Olympics. Bad for weather.)
So I remember the first signs of warmth. I was the first one in the house with the blinds up glued to a sunny window. The first one with a blanket out on the somewhat wet grass to lay out and soak up some warmth in between shivers. The first one to ask when we could picnic, and swim in the lake, and ride bikes until I couldn’t see anymore because it was so dark outside.
I remember the moment school let out one summer. The blanket was laid out under the huge tree at my neighbors house that crept over their rock wall and left a perfect canopy. We would lay under it and stare up towards the sky through the sun-illuminated leaves. I couldn’t even tell you how long we would lay there. It didn’t really matter.
I was drawn back to those days this week watching the sun shine through the trees walking with my girl listening for birds.
There were no cell phones.
There was no agenda.
As kids we’d be gone for hours until the parents would phone one another to get the other’s child home for dinner. We’d scarf it down and beg to go back out to soak up the last minutes of the sun (and secretly wait to hear the ice cream truck and promptly beg for a few quarters.)
Something robbed my kids of those carefree days. Something robbed me of those carefree days.
I could say it was 9/11. I could say that parents got smarter locking in on their kid’s every moves. I could say the world’s a better place because everyone is more careful.
But I’d be lying.
Somewhere in the jumble of growing up and becoming an “adult”… while we put on our big kid pants and go to college, and get big kid jobs, and mortgages, and insurances… we take off carefree exploration, and stopping to savor, and creativity, and adventure. We’ve taken on immediate communication and “on-demand” and sacrificed the anticipation and joy of waiting.
I never thought I’d say it, since I was one of the first kids begging my parents to get AOL to IM(that’s Instant Message), but I miss only having a home phone. Getting mail. Being legitimately bored. Having 2 TV’s… not like 7 screens (phones, iPads, laptops, computers…and the 2 TV’s).
All this instant access has corrupted the beauty of family and community. What’s instant access if you have no one to share it with?
We wind up trying to talk to each other between pings and walls made from tech screens that have our attention glued. I read a post somewhere this week that I totally needed to hear: We love our gadgets and use our people. (Ok God, you’ve got my attention.)
Jesus and his group of followers were intentional. Jesus invited, the disciples came (Matthew 9). They ate meals together (Jesus various teachings to the people included shared meals, and don’t forget the last meal they shared). They did life together. They hung out with the outcasts (tax collectors, thieves, prostitutes), and stopped to spend time with kids(Mark 10:14). Jesus own home town didn’t accept him, but he frequently plugged into places that would accept him.
Possible offenses aside, I really need to ask myself: Is my current use of technology helping or hurting my relationships? Am I watching My Little Pony and playing Fruit Ninja with my kids… or catching up on The New Girl and trying to get the high score on the latest word game with my kids dancing around (no, most likely hitting each other) for my attention? Maybe I can stand being a little more difficult to get a hold of, leave the cell phone at home, and possibly delete a few apps to communicate the old fashioned way… log on to my computer. (Or even waiting a few days until I see so-and-so to talk to their good-looking face). Go on a run with no playlist or iPhone. Watch a DVD, or play a board game.
Maybe even play outside with my kids until the sun disappears.