Sunday, August 29, 2010

Grateful for Facebook

I sometimes find myself complaining that Facebook is a useless time-suck, but today I find myself oddly grateful for it. I logged in at some point this afternoon, and I read the following collection of status updates in my newsfeed:

An elementary school friend (one I've kept up with a bit in recent years) talking about the fact that her son, eager to head out to a day of Motocross biking, brought her breakfast in bed.

Another elementary school friend (one I haven't spoken to accept on Facebook in 20+ years) wrote about her sons in a way that I found myself saying "that's just like Leo," even though I've never met the kid.

A college friend posted a Haiku about her son's birthday party.

A friend from graduate school posted an announcement about his daughter's birth.

There were others, of course, but these struck me and made me think about a time when most people's lives most of the time were lived out within the confines of a single village, and they knew people for their whole lives.

I found myself--poor self, whose life has taken me far from my hometown--very grateful that Facebook offers me a glimpse of what it might have been like to stay home in the village and watch my childhood friends' children grow up around me.

Of course, I should also note that not a single one of the people whose status I cited above lives in the place where they lived when I knew them, so it is not simply my own mobility that is the problem. But what a gift Facebook can be in the face of such mobility.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Another pilgrim

Well, I've been home over a week, and now my nieces are here visiting, so I expect to have more adventures to share, but there are some untold Italian adventures I want to post.

I realized that I failed to tell the story of Ann, the pilgrim I met in Assisi, who was walking from Rome to Jerusalem. Side note: this is one of the joys of the hostel experience. Ann and I (and others) had breakfast together in the hostel the morning I left Assisi. Just a little of her story: she had grown up Catholic (in the UK), but had outgrown the faith by the time she was 15. She lived the next 35 years or so of her life in what she now calls misery. She said she had everything she thought she wanted, but she was never happy. Then, as a total unbeliever, she got a sudden and certain sense that she was to make the Santiago pilgrimage. She did. She rediscovered her faith and has never been happier. But God keeps telling her where to walk. She walked from London to Rome, and now she is on her way to Jerusalem. I found her pretty inspiring.

She put my own pilgrim-ing in perspective. Though I tried (cautioned by a friend of mine) to always remember the holiness of the places I visited and be more pilgrim than tourist, I know that I was both, at best. And here was a true pilgrim, driven by vision and the need to answer a call. Still, I was very glad to have my pilgrimage put in perspective in this way.