One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 3:1-8
I have been trying to plan a wedding shower for my nephew and his fiancé. The shower is being thrown by "the aunties", all of which live within about 30 minutes of each other except for me. The entire planning process over the last month has taken place pretty much by group text. Not a conference call, not a face to face meeting for those who can make it; by text. And these are six people will busy schedules so even the texting has been a bit sporadic. I finally had to call my sister to see if there had been any forward movement because I had not heard anything. She assured me that I had not missed any key communication; what was on my phone was all there was to know.
I find it fascinating how much of our world enables us to not have to actually talk to anyone: self-service options, online shopping, email, text, etc. Granted, when I'm in a hurry, I love "pay at the pump" gas stations! I don't have to talk to the cashier, I can just do my thing and keep going. Many of my communications with co-workers is also done via email or text. With our staff in three different places - Hiawatha, Vermilion, and Duluth - this does make staying in contact a bit easier. But there is something to be said for actually hearing another person's voice and having a conversation. I probably talk to our office manager, Patti, a couple times a day about things that we could probably do over email, but I like that we actually talk about things. When she was on vacation recently, my phone was pretty quiet and I missed her regular phone calls.
While there are camps across the country experimenting with letting campers keep their cell phones while at camp, VLM has held pretty firm to our "no phones" rule. Giving our campers, and staff, permission to unplug is sometimes the biggest gift we can give them. Camp provides a chance for them to live in the present, to focus on the people around them, and to fully experience the beauty of our camps. So many times during the camp day we sit together - meal times, Bible study, worship - and we talk. We aren't looking at a device, we are looking at each other.
Not only did Peter heal the man in the story from Acts, but Peter also acknowledged him. The disciples could have probably healed this man just in passing, but instead they stopped and looked at him. And the man looked at them. A connection was made and the man knew who it was that gave him the ability to jump up and leap around the temple. And Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. He looked at people, he acknowledged them, he made a connection. Even the woman who tried to be anonymous and simply touch Jesus' robe for healing was sought out by Jesus. He looked at her, he acknowledged her, and sent her on her way in peace.
So often we say that Jesus came to show us a better way. In a world of screens and impersonal communications, maybe that better way includes taking the time to talk with people face to face. Perhaps this week, put down the phone, skip the easy text or email, and seek out a friend or co-worker and talk to them. Practice unplugging and connect with the people around you the way Jesus did. You might even find that you don't miss your phone!
Gretchen Bachman, VLM Director of Operations