There is something about seeing a movie in 3-D.
I remember specifically seeing a movie at the Museum of Natural History in New York. If I’m not mistaken, Harrison Ford narrated the short film about creation. And while much of it was not in line with my beliefs on creation, I remember the beauty of seeing a film in 3-D. I was 40-ish and it was my first 3-D film.
I remember feeling silly putting on those goofy glasses, but then I looked around and the entire audience looked equally goofy so what the heck! Then the show began. I was immediately drawn into it. I was floating around in the wide expanse…the oblivion that was before creation. I wasn’t just watching a story. I was part of the story. Kinda cool.
I WAS PART OF THE STORY!
That was 13 years ago. So why am I thinking about it now?
That’s what I want to tell you.
Last weekend I attended a reunion with a specific group of friends with whom I shared a wonderful–though short by comparison–time in life.
We made music together.
About ten years ago, our small-town church started a second service–a contemporary service. We weren’t the first to do it, but we were the first to do it in our little town. There was a handful of us who volunteered to lead out in the music part of the service.
A couple of guitars. No drums at first, but they did come later. Stevo played them. Two, sometimes three, vocalists. A keyboard. Even a steel guitar from time to time. Sometimes a violin. She was the only real professional among us.
Most of the musicians were self-taught. The vocalists had decent voices–some had learned to sing harmony back in high school. Man. We were rough in the beginning. We rehearsed weekly and worked hard. And we laughed even harder! We became friends. Friends who loved God. We shared lives. We shared hard times. We loved each others’ children. We prayed for each other. And we loved making music together.
In those days we saw each other several times a week. Our lives were intertwined.
I wouldn’t say it ever reached the point of being superb. The music, that is.
Not by a long-stretch.
We had our moments, though.
But they only lasted a short while. Sometimes when I think back on it seems like a mere “blip” on the radar.
One by one, most of us moved away or began to serve in other ministries. Soon we found ourselves as the busy parents of teenagers and college kids. One of us is now a grandmother. In fact, as I write, perhaps only one of us still serves at that original church.
With only a few exceptions, we mostly still live in fairly close proximity to each other–not more than a couple of hours away. But it might as well be a continent away.
We are all, however, Facebook friends. I can see the kiddos I knew as babies growing into teenagers. I see first-day-of-school pictures. I see baptism pictures and wedding pictures and sports pictures. Sometimes we exchange private messages about how we miss each other and how we want to get together. We “like” each others’ posts frequently, along with hundreds of other friends. We wish each other happy birthdays pretty much every year! I have even found myself wishing friends a slice of the most delicious chocolate cake. I’ve actually written that. I know. But I’m digressing.
Back to the reunion.
It was really happening!
My husband and I drove 45 minutes to our friends’ beautiful home on a hill. I couldn’t believe after all the years that it was my first time there. We were one of the first couples to arrive.
Jay opened the door and welcomed us. That’s when it started for me. It was like the beginning of the most wonderful 3-D movie minus the goofy glasses. I wasn’t just watching or reading about it. I was part of it! Pictures began to come to life.
There was Julie with her sweet smile and laugh. And then there were their kids, including that sweet kid that used to give me a “boy” hug every morning at church because my boys were all grown and gone and I needed one. He hugged me again, a little more embarrassed perhaps than he’d been before. But it was real! Then Kris and Jennifer and their kids—two in middle school and the baby– who happens to be starting Kindergarten and is currently sporting one handsome snaggle-toothed smile. I got to hear his precious little lisp.
It was all so wonderful to be wrapped up in each others hugs again.
And that was only the beginning. More friends came. More hugs. We had supper together.
To me there is a distinct difference.
We caught up on each others’ lives. I actually heard their voices describe to me the jobs that I knew they had. I didn’t just read words about their kids. I saw them. I hugged them–all sticky from the summer heat! I heard their “big kid” voices. I watched them run and play and swim. Justyn’s beautiful teenage smile that I had seen in photographs came to life when I heard her laugh–so like her momma. So many children and the wonderful chaos that comes with them. You can’t feel that in a picture. You have to physically sit in the big old middle of it to experience the beauty of it!
And then, of course, the music began.
We were set up on the porch overlooking the beautiful Texas hills.
As the sun began to sink, those of us who had one time led together gathered on the porch. We began to sing familiar words and harmonies. Words about grace like rain and stormy banks and how great our God is. Chords that the musicians thought they’d forgotten started to melt together just like in the old days. Was it rusty at all? Oh I assure you it was. But it just didn’t seem to matter one bit.
It had length and breadth and depth.
It was three-dimensional and beautiful.
It was life the way it was meant to be lived.
I fear that our lives are being flattened out–into a single dimension. With almost no effort at all I can stay in touch by today’s standards. I can tell these dear ones how sad I am for a tragedy by simply clicking on a stupid little blue “thumbs-up” icon. If I want to tell them I’m happy for them, I do the same.
Social media would have us believe that we can reach out and touch someone without ever reaching out and actually touching them.
That is a lie. Don’t buy it. It isn’t the same thing. But over time, without realizing it, we start to think it is. But it isn’t even close.
It hit me like a brick the minute I walked into my friend’s house and she wrapped me up in a real, warm embrace and held me there for a bit!
Life is 3-D. It is flesh and bone. It is voices with actual inflections. It has a smell and a taste. It engages all of our senses.
Pictures and words on a screen are just that. Pictures and words. It isn’t bad. It just can’t be all there is.
I was reminded after spending the grandest evening with such incredible human beings that I don’t want to reduce my relationships with them to only one dimension. They are way too fantastic to be flattened like that. I don’t want to just WISH them a slice of chocolate cake on their birthday! When I can, I want to eat it with them!
I want to experience them full on. I want to not only write about when we used to make music together, or to see the pictures of us making music. I actually want to get together and make it–less than perfect though it may be–but sung loudly all the same.
I want real life. I want to touch it. I want to hear. And I want to be part of the story.