Within a year I have been blessed to spend 26 days away from home and work, and gain some deep and rich experiences. My time away was so vastly different in the three experiences I was able to engage with. I spent 15 days in Haiti, 5 days in the mountains of Colorado Springs at Bear Trap Ranch, and 6 days in Florida at Walt Disney World. Each experience was ripe with it’s own insights into humanity.
Disney was full of entertainment, shows, rides, tastes, and smells. It’s a land of manufactured creation designed to keep the individual engaged in the moment. As I asked my kids each evening, “How did you see Jesus today?” -the common answer was through the evident imagination of the creators of Disney shadowing God’s imagination in the creation of the world. It is truly a wonder of the creativity of the human mind.
This was my 5th time to Disney World. Each sight and smell had me remembering back to my sophomore year when my family took us there. I remember the length of wait on the rides and the strange mix of boredom, fatigue from standing too long, and anticipation for the excitement of the ride. In the lines there are interactive stations that build to the ride and help tell the story as you wait. There are also other people next to you that are having the same emotions and experiences. When there as a teenager, I remember the awkward tension we all experience as we stand next to a stranger. However, with time and a building need to express to someone the experience of the moment the silence is broken and conversations are had. You leave the ride with your new best friend (lasting only minutes until you move on your way) high fiving and talking about the thrill and wishing them the best of their time.
The above experience is very rare now. As I stood in line as an adult with my own children there were few conversations as most people’s eyes were attached to a mobile device. They were distracted from the wonder of the moment, and often attendants would have to prompt a mobile consumer to, “keep the line moving,” as they were oblivious to the conditions around them. There is not yet enough history or studies done to know the full impact of a connected and distracted generation. However, my observations are it may be marked as one of loneliness and missed opportunity. Of course, I know that mobile devices are not the only source of distraction. It is everywhere you are. Home, work, vacation, and even in your own mind.
Disney may very well be the “Most magical place on earth,” if we allow ourselves to experience it. However, the church is still the most relational entity on earth and expresses the importance of face-to-face personal interaction. It still offers to meet the needs of a conversation, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, an encouraging voice, wise instruction from people who have lived a fuller life, and shared experiences for everyone who joins. And unlike the ticket holders of Disney who are checked to see if they belong before they can enter; all are welcome to the Church.
Missing Disney is one thing, but in a culture of distraction don’t miss the greatest gift Christ gave for those who live in this world: Each other, i.e. "The Church." “And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25