Selfies

I’m not a big fan of selfies, which probably puts me in a minority, based upon what I observe on the internet. Maybe part of the problem is that I’ve reached a stage of life when close-ups are too revealing. These days I prefer mood lighting in the bathroom, not wanting too much information! Having said that, a selfie with people who are important to me, or an occasion to be remembered, might be okay. Even then, I’d be inclined to hand the camera/phone to a bystander to get a better perspective. But a selfie of me eating dinner, reading a book, or watching television – nope.
 
I wonder if selfies are a modern day version of the magic mirror into which the evil queen gazed each day, asking “Who’s the fairest of them all?” When the mirror named Snow White as fairest of all, mayhem ensued. Are selfies the way in which we reassure ourselves that we are okay, that we have a place or status in the world? And when selfies are posted on the internet, is it a way to receive feedback from others that we are “fairest of them all”?
 
In this time when we are keeping our physical distance from one another, and electronic communications are the primary source of interaction, we may all find ourselves in need of reassurance that we are okay. Zoom meetings are helpful for “taking care of business,” but too often, technical glitches or the presence of too many people trying to talk at once may limit the personal connection. Facetime and phone calls with another person or family are a better option for connecting, especially when the distances are significant. (My nephew and family live in Saudi Arabia, which makes video calls essential to watch the children grow “in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and humans.”) Small, distanced gatherings on porches or in safe spaces are life-giving and spirit-lifting. And I am truly grateful for Facebook posts that let me know what friends are doing, and how their lives are being enriched.
 
But there is a way, a very low-tech way, that I’ve rediscovered is a real treasure. My mother and grandmother exchanged letters frequently during their lives. Each letter was a serial version of life. A plain tablet of paper resided on the table, and they would add to it the events of the day, which might include the menu for dinner, who stopped by (yes, people did that!) and what chores were done. When the letter reached several pages, it would be placed in the mail, received and read several days later, and savored until the next installment arrived. How I wish we had saved those letters, but they weren’t written with any sense that they were more than a report of “being okay.” As we said farewell to a congregation after serving there for 16 years, many cards and notes were offered to us. We received additional cards and notes for my birthday and our anniversary, and they are a treasure that I will keep – for now, if not forever. My granddaughters made my birthday cards, wishing me a happy birthday and a good vacation (with them), and I will definitely keep the one signed “Sincerely, Isabelle.” Though the messages are slower to arrive, the written word lasts longer than the phone call, text or Zoom agenda. Reading them – over and over – reminds me that we truly know one another. And as a way to reassure myself that I’m “okay,” I think they are way better than a selfie.
 
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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