For the love of God, put the screen down

For the love of God, put the screen down

I was safely ensconced in an easy chair by the fireplace, headphones blocking out most of the chatter around me. On Friday mornings I like to go to places like Panera to take care of tasks like writing, email and yes, blogging.

A different kind of sound that filtered through my headphones caught my attention.

At a nearby table a dad was reading a book to his preschool age boy. The kid’s face shone with the wonder of the story and the anticipation of what was going to happen next.

And maybe with the delight of a bagel and book with his dad.
Maybe such a thing shouldn’t be considered the stuff of heroes but don’t ask his son that. For myself, I’d like to nominate him just for the rarity of the sighting. Far too often  when I’m out and about I see parents and kids and sometimes entire families sitting at tables in silence, heads bowed before their individual screens.

What could be more important than the people you love?

For God’s sake, for the sake of the God who created us to be in community “(it was not good that man should be alone”) put down your phones and shut off your tablets.

Not all of the time. But when we’re with each other.

Because the cat video is probably going to be there later.

Because our time together, while seeming long while we’re living it, in truth passes as fast as a minute. Friends move away and family members die and the presence we took for granted becomes absence.

Because we cannot know each other if we do not tend to each other, and if we do not know each other our connections will always be stunted, falling short of the depth and richness they could bring.

Because that person on the other side of your screen is created in the image of God and may have something to teach you, something to give you, something that encourages you or something that surprises you.

For the love of God and the love of God’s children, put the screen down. There’s a little boy who needs you to read that puppy story again. There’s a spouse who needs you to see them, really see them. There’s a friend who has chosen to spend their precious time with you.

For the love of God, put the screen down.






Happy on Myself

Amidst the vast wasteland that is internet videos, every often I come across a true gem. This is one of those videos.

A little boy has just learned how to ride a bike, and he is more than enthusiastic about it. He is inspirational.

Here’s the video: I feel happy on myself 

For us psychologically oriented folks, we’d say that he was expressing a sense of mastery. He achieved something he’d never been able to achieve before. And the feeling of that achievement, in his words, was “feeling happy on myself.” That may be the best feeling description I’ve ever heard.

It’s one we adults tend to feel less and less. As we move through adulthood, the list of things we’ve mastered grows longer and longer. Conversely, the incentive for us to try new (and unmastered) things grows smaller and smaller. We might not do it well the first attempt. Why not stick with those things we can do well (or at least adequately)? Why risk the foolishness of failure? Besides, we might break something.

Learning something new can also take time. Artists and craftsmen know the value of repetition and practice. You don’t just read a book on making pottery. You learn about it and then you learn by doing it. You get your hands dirty. You make terrible, misshapen pots. and you keep working at it. And on that day when you throw a pot that comes out right… well, you feel happy on yourself.

I think that people age in one of two ways. Some people grow dry and brittle, like leather that’s been left out and never nourished. Their lives are brittle with fear and regrets and smallness. Other people have a glow about them, like the soft beauty of leather that’s been nourished over and over again, that’s worn but is worn smooth and beautiful.

The willingness to learn new things and risk new things is, I think, part of the nourishment of our lives. It helps keep us alive while we are yet living. It helps our lives to keep growing and keep shining.

So, what new thing are you going to learn or try or even allow yourself to think? If you need inspiration, here are some words from a very young but very wise man:

Everybody ! 

 I know you can believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you will know how to ride a bike.  If you don’t you just keep practicing. You will get the hang of it, I know it. If you keep practicing you will know it and you will keep getting better and better at it….You can do it.

Thumbs up everybody! 

Rock and roll!