A long line of teenagers on bicycles spanned the width of the road on this beautiful summer day. The adults gathered along the sides, as if a parade was taking place, but this event was a race and no parade. Among the group was a little boy nowhere near old enough to be a teenager but his confidence was unparalleled in the group, as he was positive he would win with his tricycle. The countdown started followed by a yell "GO!" and the racers took off down the dirt road to a designated spot called pole 82, which was simply a telephone pole number 82. The little boy was not doing great against these much larger bikes, in fact they vanished out of view shortly into the race. Suddenly adults were hollering for the little boy to return but he had different plans, finishing the race. Tricycles, however, are not that fast and soon the boy's father had caught him and carried him back to the adults, as tears streamed down his face. The race for him was over but the events of the week had just begun.
While this may seem like a sad memory, it actually is a very fond one that makes me smile. It comes from my summers at the Washedemoak Lake, where my parents have a cottage. Pole 82 was more than just a telephone pole, it was a week long event that had all the cottagers sharing in community together at BBQ's, card games, campfires, crafts, bicycle races and much more. These were people gathering together for summer vacation and spending much of it together.
I share this because today I believe we have lost part of our humanity to gather together. While I enjoy and find great value in technology, it has cost us the physical presence of our relationships. I won't say we have lost our relationships or the depth because most of us still connect with people regularly and often in a more honest and deep way because of the physical absence. We can share more intimately without the fear of face to face rejection, so social media gives us a freedom like never before. What we have lost is the physical presence of relationships, rarely gathering together and even when we do it is often hyper organized events.
Growing up we didn't just know our neighbours, we actually knew them and had barbecues, yard sales, and picnics together. When I say neighbours I mean almost our entire street of 16 houses and then at least 4 other neighbours on the street behind us. I am glad that our kids know our neighbours here in Notre Dame and have a taste of what I had growing up. Our two youngest girls have become best friends with our neighbours kid next door and spend a lot of time outside, instead of in front of a tv, phone or computer. They also regularly visit the elderly couple across the road and call them their 3rd grandparents. He actually grew up in our house, so we have regular chats about how things used to be here at Ever After Acres. So today I encourage you to take time to get to know your fellow beings, the ones who live right beside you. While we believe our planet needs to be saved, we also can't forget saving our very humanity at the same time.