My grandpa does this thing when I visit with him
that I never really noticed until recently.
When there is a pause in conversation and I begin to
glance around the room, when I look back at him, he
smiles. While I look for the next topic to discuss,
he has not removed his eyes from me. His gaze warms
my heartÖbut also has me wondering, what in the
world is he staring at me for? Do I have something
on my face? Is he wondering what he is going to have
for supper? Or is he contemplating me the way a
grandfather does of a grandson, admiring who I am as
a person because of who he is as one?
Regardless the reason behind it, it is a feeling I
find comforting. His brief smile when our eyes
reconnect is a type of blessing for me. It is as if
he is saying, ďIím proud of you, grandson.Ē He gets
it. He understands the importance of being present.
The same cannot be said when I am with my friends.
Not because we donít think the world of each other,
but because, we are less present with one another.
When Iím with my grandpa, the only competition I
have is age and the effect it has on ears that are
92 years old. With my friends or other members of my
family we are very distracted. Most of us have our
cell phones on the table waiting for it to flash,
ding, or buzz. And when it isnít flashing, dinging,
or buzzing, we have a tendency to pick up our
phones, gazing into the lights the way my
grandfather gazes at his grandsons, hoping to
connect with someone something.
I wonder, how much do we miss because of technology?
As I caught myself doing this at lunch last week, I
did a little research and Googled statistics about
phone use. Here is a stat I found in a Time Magazine
article that overwhelms me but doesnít surprise me:
The average person looks at his or her phone 46
times every day.  The article goes on to say,
ďAlthough 46 checks per day is the average, that
number varies depending on usersí age group. Those
between the ages of 18 and 24 look at their phones
most often, with an average of 74 checks per day.
Americans in the 25-34 age bracket look at their
devices 50 times per day, and those between 35 and
44 do so 35 times each day. Yikes. That is a lot of
unnecessary screen time.
Part of what makes Jesus so compelling is his
presence with people. Granted, Jesus didnít live in
an age where he could Ďconnectí with people through
a cell phone. He did, however, travel around with
twelve people who were pretty demanding of his time.
Jesus knew how to be with people, how to give them
all of his attention, and in doing so, validated
their lives and their humanness. People in the
Gospels felt loved and knew they were loved by
simply being with Jesus.
Perhaps you donít have a cell phone and thus this
post is irrelevant to you. Or maybe you do have a
phone and you have more self-control than the
average American. For that I applaud you. For the
rest of us, letís make a promise to pay attention
more to those with whom we are dining.
Turn off the TV with the floating heads in the
background, put aside the newspaper you always read
during your meal with your spouse, and leave the
cell phone in the car the next time you go out with
people. Letís promise that we will do our very best
to be completely present to those we share life
with. And when there is a pause in conversation,
donít be so quick to look away or find something to
Instead, just be with each other, gazing at each
other in a way God gazes upon us in all our
humanity. The way my grandfather gazes at me when we
[Adam Quine, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church