On a recent Catholic Women Now radio show, mental health counselor Randy Kiel sat in our guest seat and talked about integrating college-age children back into the family for the summer (and sometimes beyond!). We talked about the technological fallout of what Randy coined “together-alone time” — how easy it is to become isolettes gathered around a table while buried in technology without any relationship building happening. Isolettes, as in the incubators premature babies are placed in to protect them, shield them, from unwelcome environmental influences. It’s a jarring image. While it may be a positive short-term environment for a preemie, it’s not the preferred condition. Being insulated from human interaction is not beneficial for any of us in the long run.
Sure, there’s a time and place for alone time. But we step away to find it: we go to another room of the home, we pray in adoration at the chapel, we take a “Mother’s sabbath” day, or go on a retreat. Jesus himself often slipped away to the wilderness to pray. And we do so as well to physically and spiritually recharge and come back renewed in order to be present to one another.
Think about it this way; we are an incarnational people. Meaning, as sensory beings, God knew that it was best to send his Son in the flesh to live among us, to be a real historical figure. God’s love is not just some theory or idea. It is a flesh and blood reality that can be seen, heard, and wow, even touched. For if Jesus came in the flesh, if the Word become flesh, then so also must our faith, family, and friendships be in the flesh. In one way or another, we have to be “present” to one another. After a while, “I’m there with you in spirit” rings hollow.
Back to the radio show conversation, Randy continued to make a point that really hit me hard.
How can we possibly understand, appreciate, and crave the True Presence if we can’t even be present to one another in our homes?
Ponder that one for a bit, eh? And please don’t think this is me on a soapbox chastising you for your social media use. I’m sharing this here, first, as a reminder to me, myself, and I.
This beautiful commercial from Thailand reminds us how uncool it is to “disappear” in front of your closest friends and family, to be in a near perpetual state of together-alone time.
Here’s to “together-together” time.