Friday, October 07, 2011

Charlie

WARNING: As Hurricane Irene batters the East Coast, federal disaster officials warned that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents braced themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA advised: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook updates strung together.”


The above was written by a Charlie, who is a friend of mine on, uh, Facebook.  Actually, I knew Charlie when he was a little kid.  I was his parish priest in Fairfield, New Jersey.  His mom and dad were great people – they worked for the parish for many years.  Charlie would often come with his dad, who ran the parish bingo operations.  As I remember him, Charlie had a wonderful smile and was as friendly as a kid can be.  His dad worked hard, as did his mom.  I think they had trouble making ends meet, but managed through the years to raise a fine family.
I found Charlie on the Facebook site shortly after I signed on.  I looked at his pictures.  He had been a Marine and is now married and has a beautiful wife and kids.  He works in construction and the above was posted on his “wall” a few days ago.  I think it is funny.  It is typical Charlie – I do not know if he wrote it but it sure is “him.”
There are times I miss the interaction I enjoyed with people when I served them as a parish priest.  Charlie and his family were and still are a gift to me.  I can see his mom and dad in my mind’s eye – how proud they were of their kids, and how very proud they must have been of Charlie.  He has lived a good life.  He is a good and giving man.
Say what you will about the pros and cons of Facebook.  It has enabled me to touch base with a lot of people I knew over the years.  Being in touch with them now reassures me that the only reason we are born to this life is to know each other, love each other and help each other. Maybe some day, I can return the kindnesses given me by Charlie and his family.
The world is shrinking, due to marvels like Facebook.  We really are in the process of becoming a global village.  People reach out all the time via social networks.  We might tend to over do it a bit, so the above quote might be for some close to their  experience.  But the human heart calls us back again and again to what is good and real in life.  To flesh and blood people, their smiles, their hopes and dreams, their need for human contact.
Facebook links people in Cyberspace.  I have a feeling that someday, I will see Charlie and his family again.  The internet offers a way to really connect.  It offers a way to embrace those we love and somehow lost touch with along the way.  It brings back good memories, good times, good people.

1 comment:

haphazardhues said...

I love that you're on Facebook and that you have a blog!! And I agree - while not as meaningful as a face-to-face conversation, it allows lots of us to keep in touch in a way that I'm still figuring out what to do with. Different than a phone call, different from a letter, but meaningful nonetheless.