Friday, September 30, 2011

Needing Comfort

You might remember that an EF5 tornado hit our community four months ago. The reality is that although many were not directly hit, everybody in Joplin and the surrounding communities was impacted. I was reminded of that today.

You see, we were among the lucky ones. Our house was well outside the "zone" and was fine. My son who has just started kindergarten goes to school in a neighboring district, so we aren't dealing directly with any relocated schools. Our daycare had minor damage that amounted to it being closed for three days, but since May 26th all has been close to normal. Our church did sustain damage, but we are worshipping in a sister church and our offices were outside the damage so my daily work routine isn't change much. Although we are still out of our church building for worship (and any meeting with more than eight people!), we will be returning in November so the end is in sight.

So, as you see, our household was affected but in minor ways. Yes, we talk about tornado damage routinely. At any gathering it's not unusual for my five-year-old's first question to be, "So how many of these people lost their houses in the tornado?" And yes, both my and my husband's routines have been disrupted as there are more demands on us now. Yes, my children are certainly aware of what's going on.

However, I found myself surprised when my five-year-old pulled a bag of goodies out of his bag when I picked him from school today.

"Look what I got!" he said. And he started pulling items out of a plastic bag: stuffed animal, notebook, bubbles, playdoh, fruit snacks, and more.

"What's that for?" I asked.

"I don't know," he replied, handing me some papers.

COMFORT FOR KIDS it read across the top

Comfort for kids? I read on. This bag of terrific things was a care kit from the Council of Churches of the Ozarks with comments about each items included and how it can help children cope with stress and anxiety. There were additional (wonderfully written) flyers and pamphlets about dealing with emotions of traumatic times, specifically tornadoes.

And I wanted to cry.

My kids were fortunate. Their bedrooms didn't blow to the next county. While one of their preschool friends is moving back into his house this weekend, they have been in their rooms every night since the tornado.

But this little bag was a reminder that they are affected, too. And a reminder that others were so much more affected.

I celebrate that entities like the Council of Churches put together such gifts for children.

I'm sad that any children - mine or yours or anyone's - need them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avoidance by Technology

Just this week I've been in two different conversations about our interesting dependence on technology and all those delightful tools that keep us "connected" to one another. Most conversations on this topic I've been in have gone the same direction. We talk about how it's almost amusing how we seem to act as if we can't live without having constant access to texts, email, internet and sometimes even phone service. We talk about how in spite of the benefits of technology it would be good to have a day without such connection. We share our appreciation of moments when we've (usually accidently) found ourselves without such tools.

Today's conversation took a different turn. Today someone in the conversation began talking about how she had heard some statistics about the percentage of people in downtowns of big cities who walk with their phones up to their ears just to avoid human contact. She also talked about college students who walk across campus with ear buds in - sometimes with no music playing - to avoid interaction.

And thus the question arises again. Does technology really "connect" us or is it just a tool for avoidance...avoiding one another, avoiding responsibility, avoiding fear, avoiding real life, maybe even avoiding sleep?

I tend to be a "both/and" kind of girl, so I tend to believe that technology can connect but can also create deep chasms of distance between us which, if not careful, can become impossible to cross.

What do we do with this? Time, I suppose, will tell. Meanwhile, with heavy eyelids I fear that this technology is helping me avoid sleep that I am in deep need of, so it's time to say good night!