Habakkuk 3:14: You pierced with their own arrows the head of his warriors
I spent 28 hours on video calls this week. Twenty-eight. Hours. Zoom, WebEx, Skype and FaceTime. Most of those hours were one-on-one or group meetings in which I was leading or actively participating, which meant I could not do the sanity-saving trick of keeping my own video off and folding laundry while listening. That’s a lot of hours of staring at this tiny laptop screen. Too many hours, in fact. Annie Dillard always rings in my head when I start calculating discouraging tallies like this: “the way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives.”
I do not want to live a life of video conferencing. Surely you’ve all read the articles by now about how Zoom tricks and overloads our brains. It’s a cheap alternative to real, rich human interaction that I pray remains a temporary pivot for these times.
I miss so much about being together in body as well as spirit. I miss singing together in worship, praying together in person, dinner parties and concerts and lecture halls. I miss getting on planes and winding up in other cities with people I love. I miss fits of laughter. I miss hugs.
And, at the same time, I have found myself more intricately and intimately connected to more people during these months. My tiny congregation is growing. I have an eternal Skype group conversation always open on my desktop. My local clergy group keeps saving me in moments of uncertainty. The monthly meeting of young CoB women in ministry is precious time. My therapist and my clergy coach are still keeping me afloat. My text messages are full to overflowing. I have a Marco Polo group with my extended family that saves little ridiculous gems. Here in a few minutes, I’m going to shut this damn computer down and go work in the community garden, masked and far away from friends doing the same thing.
Which can only be the grace of God, right? That these poor imitations of connection we’ve designed can, in fact, be vehicles for the real thing. That laptop screens can facilitate confession and encouragement and community building. That I can sense, even over the internet, when a friend needs help; that I can communicate, somehow, that I do, too.
We are built for connection, and we are so hungry for it that we will take it in whatever form it comes. I am grateful for video calls. They are turning my brain to mush and I will still keep staring at you through this tiny screen until we can be together again because I LOVE you and I NEED you and after these ten months I understand that fact as inescapable and paramount.