By Richard Gammill
A friend of mine, Henry, lived to be nearly 105 years of age, passing away in 1995. He was well-known in our community, as for several years he drove his car for Meals on Wheels, delivering to folks 10 or 20 years younger than himself. Henry and I were members of the same Rotary Club and we all had cake every year on his birthday — with a candle on each slice.
Henry spent his career with the telephone company. Our local newspaper ran a story with a picture of him supervising rows of telephone operators. The ladies, wearing headphones, sat shoulder to shoulder in front of banks of switchboards connecting callers. Called the “fingertips of the country,” the work of these operators was essential in the years before automated switching centers. Henry and his rank of operators facilitated urgent communications during times of crisis and connected families separated by great distances. By the time I met Henry, those human jobs had long been replaced by technology, but our need for connections is greater than ever.
Today’s youthful generation would not know what to do with an old telephone with a rotary dial, but they tap their phone screen and connect with their friends — or order a pizza. Social media is all about making connections and keeping them current. Thousands of refugees have fled desperate situations with nothing but their smartphones, enabling them to stay connected with families at home and make connections to get help at their new destination. Those connections mean survival.
In a poem he composed in 1684, John Donne famously stated, “No man is an island.” We are all connected to one another and we do badly when we sever our connections. The effects of isolation have proven so severe that, in Colorado, the state has reduced its use of solitary confinement by 85 percent, and assaults on prison staff are at their lowest point since 2006.
The Bible, especially the New Testament, plays a vital role in enabling us to establish a connection with God. When John the Baptist appears on the scene, it is for one purpose: not to present himself, but to connect his people with God in the person of Jesus Christ.
“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” — Mark 1:7-8.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” — I Timothy 5:5-6.
This connection is vital for everyone.
Christianity is concerned not only with our vertical connections, but also our relationships with one another.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” — Hebrews 10:24-25.
Our connections within the body of Christ are vital to our spiritual and physical health.
Telephone exchanges have long been fully automated, making complex connections at blinding speed. But it takes love to make these connections work for us. When our hearts are ruled by love, our connections can overcome all hindrances. Why is this? Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:7-8). Our connections are valuable and worth protecting.
This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.