My grandchildren have been with us since July 18. Don't panic. I am not going to bring out all the pictures. (I have plenty if you are really interested.)
Since they live in Japan we visit with them regularly via the internet. Skype is wonderful--and it is free. However, we don't have opportunity to talk in depth like we do on their prolonged visits.
Last week in this space I suggested that questions are good and necessary for learning. We have proved that during these past weeks. There has been ample time for conversation during our trips to the beach, the Tellus Science Museum, the PGA Championship Tournament, Braves game, Silverback soccer, at the pool, rock climbing, or just sitting around the table at meal time.
"When you were three years old, what was your favorite thing at McDonald's?" The world's largest chain of hamburger and fast food restaurants had not come into being when I was three years old. If it had been in existence, there would not have been any in Needham, Alabama.
"When you were five, what was your favorite television program?" In 1948 there were abut 40 million radios in the U.S. but there were about 44,000 television sets (with probably 30,000 in the New York area). The Jenkins household did not have one of them.
"Did your Daddy take you to soccer games?" No, but soccer was not played in south Alabama when I was a kid. We played the other kind of football.
"How did you know you wanted to be a preacher?" After a lot of conversation with God discussing a lot of different options, I finally realized that being a preacher was what God wanted me to be. So I did what I thought God wanted. By the way, God has a plan for every one of us and most are not expected to be preachers.
"What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?"
"What was the worst (bad) thing you ever did?"
I will leave my answers to the last two questions as private sharing with my family.
I read a news story recently about how much the internet knows about us. The article said, "With little notice or fanfare, the digital world is fundamentally changing what was once an anonymous medium where everyone could be anyone--where in the words of the famous New Yorker cartoon, nobody knows you are a dog--is now a tool for soliciting and analyzing our personal data... The new internet doesn't just know you're a dog; it knows your breed and wants to sell you a bowl of premium kibble."
That is a little scary.
The questions and conversations that my wife and I shared with Jamie and Felicia allowed me to learn a lot about my grandchildren and for them to learn about their Papa, Nana, and extended family.
While I don't want the internet to know everything about me, I want my grandchildren to know me and I want to know them as fully as possible. I believe that knowing each other better enables us to love each other more.
A little song I remember from long ago contains the following words: "I am loved. You are loved. I can risk loving you for the One who knows me best loves me most. I am loved. You are loved. Please take my hand. We are free to love each other. We are loved."
God knows us and still loves. We are called to love each other in the same way God loves us. But we need to "know" people so we can really love them.
Who in your family do you need to get to know better? In your church family? In your neighborhood? At your workplace?
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," August 15, 2011. North Georgia Conference, United Methodist Church.]