Being in the garden with my grandma while she tended tomatoes and cucumbers was often educational and always relational. Watching her sew on buttons and whip up a meringue was magical. It was a way for us to connect.
She taught me well. I love to cook, garden, knit, and quilt. I come from a long line of women who enjoy making and growing all sorts of things.
When I was first living on my own, I would call Grandma often. Knowing how to get the powdered sugar just right on the chocolate crinkle cookies or if it is cold enough outside to leave the turkey in the garage overnight where her specialties. I’d call her and whine about the wonky texture of my lemon pie and how long to boil the canning tomatoes to make sure they were safe.
One day I called grandma, and my grandpa picked up. It had been a few weeks since I’d called to have her solve a domestic difficulty. When he heard my voice, he said, “Well, there you are. We hadn’t heard from you in a while. We figured you stopped cooking, or you figured it all out”.
In 1993, there were no iPads with 42 different YouTube videos waiting to show me how to roast a red pepper. There was no food.com. There weren’t reviews telling me to chop my carrots julienne or they won’t cook up right for this particular recipe.
There was a time when information passed between people. Actual human contact was necessary. Someone would need to know this or that, and they’d need to find another person who may know the answer.
Grandma was my Google. My dad was MapQuest. Village Inn was Facebook. Neighborhood garage sales were eBay. My brother was iTunes, and watching an incredible play from the bleachers at a baseball game was YouTube.
We needed each other in a different way than we do now. We may have more options and quicker access now, but we have lost something essential. Human contact. Interaction when one person is vulnerable enough to say, “I don’t know how to get my green beans to grow up the trellis. How do you do it?” and “I have ruined my salmon twice. How do you grill yours?”
Instead, we hop on Google. Perhaps it’s just more convenient. It may also be because we want to avoid exposure for not knowing or the vulnerability of asking for what we need.
More than information was exchanged in this old school transaction. In the asking and answering, support and connection become relational glue. Openness and vulnerability gave us insight into the other person.
We learn more about someone each time we interact. Do they respond with support or shame? Are they warm and inviting or distant? When we had to communicate with another person for knowledge, we gained more than an answer. We acquired wisdom. We had more data with which to make good relational decisions.
Perhaps it’s time we engage in an antiquated search engine, the human heart. How will you connect today?