April 13, 2011

Lost and Found

I wasn’t trying to hide. But there it was, in the form of an urgent e-mail, evidence to the contrary. I was “found” through a Web site where you can locate people who are “lost.” I didn’t know I was lost. But apparently someone thought I was.
The subject line on the e-mail read: “At last! After a long search, your friend [insert name] has found you!” In a matter of 24 hours, not only was I lost, but I was also not communicating fast enough. The friend who found me sent a second message after I failed to reply promptly to the first message. She wanted to keep in touch. I had the best intentions to reply. A busy schedule occupied my time, and our initial communication was lost.
Communication. The obvious can be found there.
I decided to be more proactive about staying “found” and keeping in touch with family and friends. This brought about an unexpected phone call from a good friend planning a business trip to Texas, wanting to “catch up.” Let’s do lunch!
2011 1510 page17“That’s a great idea,” she says. “Let me give you my e-mails and numbers.”
Did she use plurals? How many numbers are there? Do I have enough paper for this?
“You can catch me at the 214 number, and you can text me at that number too. But if you want to send me a 3-D map with the restaurant’s address, send it to the 301 number. That number is good for e-mail as well. It’s different than the e-mail on my laptop, because sometimes I can’t get into that e-mail when I’m traveling. If something comes up and you need to call me at the office, you can use the main line, and they can patch you through to my personal cell. That’s the first number I gave you. I won’t see you for a few weeks, but if you want to chat on Skype, let me give you my screen name!”
I scribble the information down quickly—doubtful any of it will be legible later. Maybe being found is not entirely bad. It is wonderful to speak with her. The conversation has left a collection of Post-it notes containing contact numbers and e-mail addresses for my friend. I am reminded there are numerous ways to establish communication and equally numerous ways to get lost in the process. In a world of instant communication our words are often rushed and there is little effort to contemplate and savor the exchange.
As I look over the Post-it notes I get nostalgic about communication. I miss the days when I could pick up the phone (one attached to a wall socket) and with excitement hear my grandmother’s voice on the line. I miss handwritten letters. When did advances in technology take away these simple pleasures? Later I discuss the day with my neighbor Edna as we sit on her porch swing. She tells me I am missing the point. Someone took time out of their day to look for me, she says. This is an honor. She tells me:
“When I was a little girl, I would sit outside our barn at night and pray. We were not rich. After a long day of school and chores, underneath bright stars, with miles of nothing around me, I searched for God. I wanted to talk to Him. I was certain He could hear me. That was my time to commune with God. I fear we’ve lost sight of how important that communication is. How lost we are without it.”
She stops for a moment, lost in the dusk, waiting for childhood stars to arrive. “With all this modern technology, it would be unwise to forget to listen, talk, and communicate with the most important person in our lives: God.”
I meditate and realize: The Shepherd didn’t find the lost sheep with a GPS, and Jesus didn’t receive a cell phone call asking Him to heal Lazarus. As I ponder I see it: Developments in the field of communication are like a big cosmic sign shouting to our hardened ears: “I found you, and I want to contact you; send Me an e-mail. Here is my address: Calvary.” Signed, Jesus.
Dixil Rodríguez, a college professor and volunteer hospital chaplain, lives in Texas. This article was published April 14, 2011.