By Steven Scheid
The last two months have been an effective onslaught of on-line meetings and calls. We have shifted from in-person connection to connecting digitally. Digital reality refers to three main opportunities of technological “realities.” These can be varying degrees of imitation, enhancement or both. As we move into a different type of relating, we need to consider plain old reality.
Babies who are not held regularly have a significant increase in developmental delays and increased mortality. The same impacts can be seen in the elderly population. Touch and connection are inexplicably linked to the animal DNA; its impacts can be seen from worm larvae to human babies.
We were made for real connection.
Though the internet can be extremely useful for maintaining basic relationships, to be in a fully functional relationship, both direct and indirect connections are needed. Handwritten letters carry the unalienable marks of our personality and mood into the marks on the page. When you type a letter, your words are still present, but the font is not “you.” While you can support emotionally an online friend, emojis are not the same as a hug. We need face-to-face friends. We need the opportunity to see the body language, experience the subtle cues of communication, and feel the unaltered presence of others.
I believe this comes from the deeper connection of a spirit to spirit. In the presence of another the creative power of God expressed in the other can be felt. If we look it can be seen. I long for the days when we can be back together. In the meantime, let us follow the Wesley’s general rules.
- Do no harm: Share love but not a virus. Caring is knowing the limits to put on yourself to not harm others.
- Do good: Reach out with what you can now. Share what you can and live as the church in community.
- Stay in love with God: Know that the one who wove the DNA of each of us together also knows the DNA of every virus on the earth. God has plans for you that are good. Spend a bit of the extra time you have with God. It will open your relationship. Even in the mystery of God there is a hug waiting. It is not digital, but it is reality.
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries
General Commission on UM Men