Wednesday, July 21, 2010
You Are Real: on Letters, Spirit, and Canoes
By L.L. Barkat
(This is a first for Faith, Fiction Friends – a guest post. It’s by one of my favorite authors and poets, Laura Barkat – what an honor that is! She’s asked me to guest post at her blog, Seedlings in Stone, and you can find it there. We’re both addressing the same topic – is online life real?)
She was fourteen. He was eighteen. They fell in love by mail. When the war ended, they married. As far as the family stories tell it, no one ever questioned whether my great aunt and uncle had a relationship that was real from the start. In fact, their long correspondence was often painted as the sweetest part of the tale.
Fast forward to this July. I was interviewed, then challenged in a follow up email. The assertion? My online life isn’t real and probably, by extension, interferes with my “real life.”
I responded a bit straight up, wondering why Christians can believe in connection with an invisible Holy Spirit but not connection with real people over the wires. I mentioned that no one ever questioned the validity of my aunt and uncle’s correspondence, then added, “Maybe we don’t see the human in a uniform display font online. But the human is there. So is the correspondence.”
Sure, if I have the chance, I always reach for more dimensions. I’ve shared breakfast, held hands, paddle boated down the Frio River after first meeting online. It’s gone the other way too. I’ve briefly shared lunch and conference sessions in person, only to later solidify relationships online (I even hired one of my favorites. She’s a terrific writer and editor.)
At the end of September, if all goes as planned for HCB’s Fall Retreat, I will be blessed with the dimensional again. Glynn is already real to me, after more than a year of online correspondence and collaboration. But a canoe race down the Frio should prove this to the world.
For the record, I plan to let Bradley do the heavy paddling. I sincerely hope he is working out at a real gym in preparation.
Related: We Are Real by Ann Kroeker at The High Calling Blogs.
Photograph: Turning Dandy by Nancy Rosback. Used with Permission.