We live in the physical world around us interacting with the people in our lives and going about our daily tasks that demand our attention and response. And for us as believers, we hopefully take time away from that physical world to enter into the spiritual world through prayer and praise of our great God. But it is my confession and I’d bet to say the same for many of us, that we also spend much of our time in a relatively new realm … the cyber world. I do confess that many more hours each day are spent interacting in the cyber world, more than time spent in prayer and contemplation.
It’s easy to trick your mind and heart into believing that you’re making connections with friends and family in the cyber universe especially when social media makes it so very easy to think that a “thumbs up” or a heart emoji is sending an authentic message to one another.
Currently I’m in the thick of raising our four children ranging in ages from 13 down to 4 years old, and there is a new trend emerging in our youth today that gives me the sense that I’m a pioneer who is parenting in an unknown territory. There is a new vulnerability in their lives in regards to connecting with their peers. Suggesting that they call up a friend on the phone to invite them over is met with a behavior that suggests that what I’ve asked is as archaic as sending a telegram! “Let’s just text them, Mom” is a common reply.
Reading Chapter 6 in Lisa Hendey’s The Grace of Yes encouraged me to come face to face with this reality in our family life. It made me reflect “do I demonstrate this behavior to my children?” Do I choose to avoid physical interactions with people around me? Do I show my own vulnerability to my children and make the effort to purposely connect with others?
The Lenten season seemed like the perfect time in my mind to put a plan into action. Because what is reflection and intention without action, right? My husband and I, since the start of our relationship, have attended the early Sunday Mass at our parish. As we have grown from a family of two into a family of six, we have continued to make this a stable part of our family life. But we also recognize the difficulty it often is to get all of us out the door and in the pew by 8 AM! We have noticed over the years that we certainly are the minority, as far as young families are concerned, at the early Mass.
But this past year, we had seen another couple and their little ones sitting in the third row from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday. It wasn’t until reading The Grace of Yes that I decided to take action. I felt the Holy Spirit moving me to invite them over to our home. But again, in this day of “connecting without connecting” I felt that they would find it strange or intruding if I extended the invitation. This Lent I’ve made it a mission to pray the Divide Mercy Chaplet every day. One morning after its completion, I was moved to take action. So I grabbed a pen and notecard and placed our address on the card and wrote out an invitation. The following Sunday, I passed the note to Kim.
Like a teenager, I eagerly waited for a text or phone call from Kim telling me she and her family would be delighted to come by. In our desire today for instantaneous responses, I honestly struggled the next week in anticipation. I started to deal with my vulnerability and questioned whether or not I ought to have put myself out there. “Maybe they will think I’m too forward. … Maybe they like to just spend their weekends with their own family. … Maybe they are vegetarian or don’t eat breakfast!” (Yes, these all seriously came to mind!)
It occurred to me during this week of waiting that in a time when we can connect with the world at our fingertips, we are truly more isolated than ever before. I see through this very simple act of kindness that it is actually in our vulnerability that we break out of that isolated cocoon. And isn’t that the beauty of Lent? To go to a place of darkness, a place unknown and break ourselves free from all that hinders us from experiencing God’s greatness that He has in store for every one of us.
Kim did accept our invitation, and her husband and three children were able to come over to share in our Sunday morning breakfast after Mass. Our older kids were joyfully engaged with their little ones and we were able to share our experiences growing up in the Church. We found out that the father used to be a youth minister while in college at his parish and that Kim herself, attended Catholic school. We opened our heart to do something a bit out of the ordinary and experienced many graces during our visit together. I’d imagine that our friendship will blossom from here and hopefully our own children will mirror the example that was shown them in this Lenten experience.
The author of this article prefers to remain anonymous. Copyright 2018.