meesuaI ordered the tempura set(I’m a creature of habit.) He ordered the noodles. Over the meal we talked… and listened. Subject matter ranged from the state of the world to the health of our parents. We chatted about our work, exchanged war stories about raising children, shared our concerns about common friends. Spiritual stuff? I’m sure we touched on our walk with God and shared our concerns for our churches. Yet there was a sense that the spiritual was to be found in all of life.

I walked away from lunch feeling, yet again, how privileged I was to have a friend like him. I walked away with my spirit renewed.

In his excellent book, THE DE-VOICING OF SOCIETY, John L. Locke reflects on the drastic decline in intimate, face-to-face relationships in modern day society. He notes, as others have done, the destructive effects of the loss of human intimacy. Locke writes:

“…individuals with few close relationships generally report feeling less socially supported than those awash in intimacy, and typically experience poorer physical and mental health. Women with few intimate relationships are more likely to break down following a crisis. And people of both sexes are more likely to die at any given age than more ‘connected’ people.”

Ironically, the new communication technology lends itself to the lessening of face-to face contact. E-mail, ATM machines, cell-phones etc., make possible all sorts of new interactions but decrease the incidence of direct contact between people–to our detriment.

Locke adds:

“… friendships – the preventive cure(for unconnectedness) involve little more than talking. Those with too little time or disposition to ‘just talk’ have too little time to be a friend. emoved from emotional and social friendship, we may well ask what it means to be human – asking not in intellectual curiosity but in exasperation and despair. Stripped of social interactions that define us as individuals and give meaning to our lives, we become efficient automations with plenty of money and no wasted time but little that connects either to others or to our own selves.”

I do not think Locke overstates his case. Even the apostle John, who used the written word to reat effect, recognized that there remained a need for face-to-face contact. At the end of his third letter, John writes: “I have many things to write to you, but I don’t want to write to you with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” (3 John 13,14 HCSB) nd that’s about right coming from the New Testament writer who has so much to say about love.

We NEED to be connected. Trouble is, schedules today leave little time for ‘wasting time’ with friends. Which brings me back to the subject of lunch. We do need to eat. Until the day comes when we wear nutrition patches so that we can skip meals and save time, we will need to take time out to eat. So eat with a friend. And nourish both body and spirit.