My earliest telephone memory was the fun as a six-year-old picking up the line to ever so quietly listen in on a conversation between strangers. In this era, there were no mobiles and few dedicated land lines into homes for the working class. We shared our line with others, it was known as a party line.
As I look back on this time, I find myself smiling at how we stay connected. Many today see social media as a part of life which began in the early 2000s. I beg to differ. Social media was alive and well in my childhood. It was different and yet the outcome was much the same as it is today.
Conversation, communication, and dialogue feed our souls. When we start to run low on any of these, a thirst builds up within. At a tipping point, we go looking for someone, at time desperately anyone, to talk to. I want to share! I want to listen to the stories of others, vicariously reliving them. The fact that I know intellectually that I am part of larger family is never enough. I need to participate in the family by sharing, interacting, and listening to stories which unite us all.
Powerful stories are personal. As I bring others into my highs and lows, moments of despair and celebration, moments when I think I am losing everything or conquering the world, I relive the intensity of emotions with others. In doing so, I rediscover my heart. I touch all that is important to me. I often see a glimpse of life’s most important treasures, each grounded in a relationship.
Extreme moments always give birth to larger expressions. We talk about them, not just you or me. Songs are written, pictures drawn, and celebrations organized! Everything is focused on community, even as we echo the psalmist’s joy; “Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking; I compose songs on your wonders.” (Psalm 145.5).
Even as I read my words, I see myself trying to hold in my smile and laughter on a party line.