It’s Advent — a reflective season of waiting — and this year I’m mulling over two words: transcendence and omnipresence.
We humans are neither. Yet, we are closer to both than we’ve ever been before.
Thanks to technology, we can be multiple places at once. This can be very good, as when my busy husband Facetimes a meeting in Tri-Cities from Wenatchee so he can be home for dinner.
It can be bad, like when I’m so engrossed in the Facebook updates of my East Coast friends and family that I’m ignoring my dear children standing right next to me.
And transcendence — there are so many conveniences now that allow us to transcend mundane realities. I can’t think of the last time I washed laundry by hand on a scrub board. Thanks to Roomba I vacuum less. We avoid aches and pains with Tylenol. We eat chicken soup regularly but never pluck a chicken. And when is the last time I walked somewhere out of sheer necessity?
One of my daughters is playing around with weaving on a loom and I’m in awe of how long it takes to make anything. I can buy a new shirt with a couple touches on my iPhone. We can communicate with friends quickly, easily, without ever seeing or hearing them.
Often these conveniences are good. They certainly save time, which allows us to take on more. And more. They allow us to be connected to more people from more places.
So how do I know when I’m extended beyond healthy human capacity? Is more always more?
I’m grateful — very grateful — I don’t have to slaughter the meat my family consumes. Then again, if we did on occasion, might we eat differently? Think about our food differently? Appreciate it more?
I would never wish away my washing machine (I have five kids. The thought of broken appliances makes me sweat). But, if I had to fetch my family’s water today I’m sure I’d be more thankful that I had it in the first place.
I’m not trying to go back in time, or pretend I live in a different time and place than I do. I am trying to think more deeply about what it means to be human. (And I’m confident having an iPhone is not a prerequisite.)
This Advent I’d like to acknowledge the limitations (blessings?) of my physical embodiment. I hope to: stop by and hug my friend (instead of texting an emoji); knead some dough and smell baking bread; walk to the store in the December cold (and be grateful for my kids’ warm coats and healthy legs); sing carols; build a fire with my guy.
May this Advent fill your senses and remind you of what it means to be human.
Mari is a Wenatchee native. She and her husband Alan grow tree fruit and some pretty cute kids. This piece originally appeared in The Wenatchee World.