The answer? Get cancer.
I apologize for the bluntness of that statement. I don’t mean it. I don’t wish it for anyone.
I sat in a meeting on Saturday morning, a meeting of our core leaders. As we were getting started, some of us were wondering how one of our staff members was doing.
A good question.
Ray retired after years of being a pastor. However, he’s no good at retiring, being, at heart a pastor, a shepherd. So he is with us now, spending his time visiting people in the hospital, praying, taking care of our other retired people.
A couple of months ago, his back started hurting. He went to a chiropractor, who referred him for more tests, which led him to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma and a round of treatments that started on Friday.
Back to Saturday morning. As we were wondering, someone asked for his blog address. “rayharrison.org” was the answer. And Todd read Saturday morning’s post to the ten of us sitting around. And then Todd prayed for Ray and Arlene.
Of the ten of us, I am the only blogger. One of the others is linkedin. The rest are normal almost fifty-somethings. If social media is a fishbowl, this group is on some other beach.
And yet, we all were part of a conversation.
The blog was set up by a recent college grad from our church. Now Ray can write updates and they can be read by: family back in Great Britain; people they met while living in Sierra Leone; people in Peoria and Fort Wayne where they served; people around the world.
Most of those people have never read a blog. They don’t care about social media. They are clueless about all this stuff. They just know that they care deeply about their friends.
I’m aware of a lot of other non-tech people starting to use these communication tools: another couple dealing with cancer; a couple adopting a child from Columbia; a theatre company wanting to supplement the website they have had for years and struggled to keep current; a leader wanting to maintain confidential contact with a bunch of guys heading to different colleges; a woman watching from the edges for years, but now wanting to be involved in lives of new friends.
In all these cases, people are wanting to connect with people they already know and finding the best tools to do that.
There isn’t any money in this. There is prayer. And all of this is about relationship. It’s about wanting to stay connected to your friend who is discovering that a diagnosis changes things. For Ray and Arlene, writing a blog isn’t about playing with shiny objects. It’s about life and death.
And when social media is about life and death, the fishbowl can start to leak.