Yesterday afternoon, I was blessed to attend a gathering out in Langley hosted by my good friend Kathleen. It was a great day of fellowship under the warm sun, as over 50 people (ranging from the age of 13 months-old to 50-something years-old) ate, drank, laughed, sang songs, and swam.
I knew the majority of attendees through youth and young adult ministry in the archdiocese. We had a wonderful afternoon of connecting and catching up. Topics ranged from my missing family to my concussion to what they had been doing all summer to what kind of jump off the diving board makes the biggest splash.
I’m not sure how many of them knew (or cared) that I was going to be there as many of them seemed pleasantly surprised when I arrived. Or at least they did a great job in faking it.
Or maybe they were shocked to see an Asian in that part of Langley haha.
Something remarkable – and refreshing – happened while I was there. In my three hours with Kathleen’s family and friends, I did not see a cell phone. Not a single one.
No one taking pictures of food.
No checking email. Or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.
It was unexpected.
It was freeing.
It was awesome.
This community of people “gets it”. They all understand the “ministry of presence” and they recognized that the people that were important (at least for this particular afternoon) were the ones that they could speak to in person as opposed to through a screen.
People were engaged in conversations (light or heavy) and in each other. It was a joy to be a part of it.
It’s amazing how prevalent cell phones are now. Observe how many people are on their phones at any bus stop or in any store line-up. It’s no longer taboo to be on your phone at a restaurant. And don’t get me started on the goofballs who dangerously stare at their phones while walking down or across busy streets.
I realize that there’s a certain element of pot and kettle in what I’m saying. I’ve never met a chance to share something on social media that I didn’t like.
But I’m going to try to leave my phone in my pocket a little more and instead soak up the sights and sounds of my immediate surroundings. Especially when Gail and the kids return home in a couple of weeks.
Because what – and who – is most important to me will be right in front of me.