Connected is used more in today’s world. Growing up, I never heard my parents use the word connected or to be connected. Today, every other day we talk about being connected. The web has brought focus to this term. We are connected with our smartphones. Facebook keeps us connected. Social media sites and content publishing platforms encourage us to stay connected.
Last week, a long time teacher, friend and mentor passed away. He was the pastor of our church for 54 years. There were over 3,000 people at his wake and nearly 1,000 at his funeral. As I watched all of these people, with tears in their eyes and warm memories in their hearts, I thought about the fact that this priest had neither a smartphone or a computer. He didn’t understand Facebook nor cared about Linkedin.
The incredible display of connection that others had with him made me think about being connected. His legacy of developing connection with others could not be easily seen as an observer of an individual instance. Yet his ability to connect was powerful.
Sitting at his long wake made me think that, at times, we have everything backwards. We acquire phones and easily set up Facebook accounts. Our text messages and feeds make us feel alive with activity and the every present stream of new news of those around us. We feel so connected. But are we?
This priest’s tools were simple. Be able to listen without judgment. To never think of himself first. Unconditionally love even more so when the other person messed up. He always took the extra step to help that others would not take. He would make the extra phone call that made all of the difference in the world. And he had a way of making you feel like you were the only person in his life when you were together with him.
He was interested in your life. Not his ideas, knowledge, or position. He never forgot your name, your story, or who you really are. He was never frustrated by interruption. He emphasized the need for patience endlessly. Seeing you smile was an important thing for him..
His life was not cluttered with stuff. His eyes and his ears led you to his heart and in so doing you could begin to see yours. That is all he ever needed to accomplish so much.
He was an example worth emulating.
If only we could learn to break away from the smartphones we so love, to allow us to go deeper into each of our relationships in a way that even technology would envy.