Owen entered the sanctuary and looked around hesitantly until he found his grandparents and he smiled as he noticed the empty chair beside his grandfather.
I wondered what his smile signified, happiness knowing his grandfather saved him a seat and/or joy at knowing he belonged to this man.
Quickly he moved down the aisle trying not to step on feet in his excitement to seek out the chair reserved just for him.
I watched as the adults he moved around and in front of reached out hands of support steadying him as he moved awkwardly along the narrow aisle.
He reached his destination and sat down, immediately his grandmother reached out to shake his hand and his grandfather followed. I smiled as Owen and his grandfather ended their shake with the knuckle bump I so often see teenagers use when they greet one another.
I smiled inwardly and said a prayer of Thanksgiving for our church community, Owen and his grandparents. For in this brief tableau Owen grew a little stronger in the knowledge that he belonged both to his grandparents and to his church community.
Owen like most children his age is growing up in a world that is smaller because of the internet and social media. A world where he will be able to make friends with other children his age all around the world and communicate with them in real time. He will understand the world in a way that no generation before him has. And many of his friends will never be known to him except through the internet.
I believe that all children need a counterbalance to these important internet relationships,they need an equally strong sense of belonging to a local community and family where there are hands to steady, a saved seat acknowledging their importance and knuckle bump handshakes.
As a grandparent in the age of the internet my job is not to create internet fear in my grandchildren. It is to be that counterbalance made up of handshakes, letters sent through ground mail, phone calls, hugs, the cheering section at soccer games and a proud blogging grandma, trustworthy relationships in good times and in bad.