Boxes, Presents, and Presence…
This past weekend my sister was visiting. During our time together, we went through the “boxes.” You know the “boxes.” Ones you dig out of the basement that have old “stuff“ like your parents’ grade school report cards or your junior high basketball trophies or the letters your mother wrote to you while you were at summer camp.
Amidst the boxes, one box in particular intrigued me. It was a box of cards congratulating my parents when I was born. In those days mothers stayed in the hospital long enough that the address on the envelopes was the maternity ward at the hospital.
Yes, these were real cards. Hand-written. With a return address and a stamp. Placed in the mailbox and addressed to my parents. Thirty-six of them in total. The moment I opened that box I realized I wasn’t just born into a family; I was born into a community.
Although there isn’t anything particularly unusual about a box of thirty-six hand-written cards, imagine the undertaking of each card: going to the store, carefully choosing a card, crafting a thoughtful message, buying a stamp. Then going to the post box to send them off – at least an hour for each card.
Recently, my niece had a baby and we sent a quick post on Facebook, and a text with a few emojis congratulating her. All told, it took about sixty seconds.
I’m not suggesting we discard our devices and go back to the “good old days.” They weren’t actually the “good old days,” they were simply the old days with different challenges.
What I am suggesting is that there was some goodness that came out of those old days. There was some time, attention, and presence put into the process of securing, scripting and sending those cards.
Today, we claim to be clever people, efficient and high-powered with well-organized day-timers and to-do lists. But in our zeal to get things done, have we forgotten the simple art of connecting?
Let us make a firm resolve to take time to be present to the lives we live, to stop once in a while and be thoughtful and sensitive to the people we care about. Let us be good to ourselves and to the people around us.