Laurel Fraser is a graduate of Cornell College and is now working toward a Master of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She interned with Iowa IPL during the summer of 2016.
There was a time when connecting was a term void of references to technology. It meant coming together – ideas, people, things. I remember one of the first times I connected to the Internet through AOL (America OnLine). This moment marked a change in the way the world, especially my generation and the ones following mine, thinks about connecting.
Some may refer to “connecting” as forming a relationship with someone based on commonalities, something that once required two people to be in the same room at the same time. Yet with the developments in the Internet over the last few decades, we have become able to “connect” with others – friends, family, and strangers alike – even as we sit home alone on our living room couches.
But there are consequences – when I go to the coffee shop down the street, I have a sort of routine. I walk to the counter, place my order, throw a tip in the jar, and go to the end of the bar to wait. And then I check my phone.
It’s not considered rude, to be on your phone when you’re waiting for something or someone. But then I look up, and I see people sitting across from each other, heads down, idly moving their thumbs across the screen.
Some are checking their Facebook feeds. Others are sending a “quick message” to a friend not invited to this gathering. A few are looking up new shoes to get for the summer season.
You see it in restaurants, waiting rooms, amusement parks, even weddings. Some establishments have had to put up signs that say “Please do not use your phone when placing an order.” Other places take advantage of this form of “connecting” and create a hashtag for people to use. One thing is for sure, people are obsessed with connecting over technology.
And it’s harmful. It prevents us from connecting with the people we are with!
As an intern with Interfaith Power and Light, I contributed to the creation of their new program called “The Good Life Redefined.” As part of the program participants are asked to think about how we reconnect with what is meaningful and to share a story of connection. To elicit that story participants are asked. “Recall a time when you felt connected with what matters most to you. Who was with you? How did this experience contribute to your own definition of the good life?”
I was asked to answer the question myself, so here’s my story.
My Story of Connection begins with a moment at this year’s Iowa United Methodist Annual Conference, when my former pastor tapped me on the shoulder. Although she was an interim pastor for my church for just a year, she always had tremendous faith in me, genuinely supporting me and encouraging me as I graduated from high school.
Now, four years later, I’ve graduated from college and am on my way to seminary. So when my pastor greeted me, I felt that connection that can only exist between two women called to ministry, a connection of joy and pride. She asked me if I needed a stole.
Normally I’m one to resist when someone offers such a substantial gift, but I could tell this was different. This was more than a gift. This was a blessing that my pastor wished to bestow on me. She took me to a stand where a woman who made these stoles by hand stood in pride among her handiwork. I was drawn to a beautiful stole with a labyrinth design and gorgeous blue hues. It seemed as if its energy made me stand a little taller; I felt like the grace of God was in me in that moment.
When Pastor Carol laid her hand on my shoulder and anointed me in that moment saying, “May you be blessed to be a blessing,” I felt like in this moment I was living The Good Life. And not solely because I was being gifted a marvelous thing, but because I knew I had the love and support of some incredible people.
Those things are forever with us, and they take up no space at all in the world – only in our hearts.
To read more about The Good Life Redefined and register our February 5th workshop in Indianola, click here.