At a recent family meal where there were several young adults and older teenaged relatives, I noticed that right before the meal began several of them had their heads bowed and their hands in their laps. I was impressed that they had taken this opportunity to give thanks for the meal even though no one had yet called for anyone to share Grace with the group.
I have often noticed this type of silent prayer of thanks in restaurants or at public meals where no group prayer has been called for. It is a way that many people can continue their own custom without disturbing others in the vicinity. Some do not even bow their heads but seem to be in prayer.
The young people I was observing were not moving their lips, so whatever their message, they were very private about it. As the meal went on I observed that some of them seemed to retreat back into their prayerful attitude. I couldn't help wondering what had caused this shift in their religious observances.
When I got up to refill the drink pitcher I noticed that all of these young people had something in their laps. A closer look showed that it was their cell phones, iPods or whatever new communication device they owned. They were communicating for sure, but not with those around them, and probably not with their creator. They were texting friends from back home, and I am not even sure but what some of them were texting other people at the same table.
Their memories of this meal would not be about those who were present, but would be about whatever bit of news they had received from their text messages.
Many memories flooded my mind when I thought back to similar gatherings when I was myself a young adult. My selective memory makes me think/hope that I was enjoying being with these relatives and yearned to know them better. But I probably did have thoughts about the date I couldn't accept because of the event. Or possibly I was thinking of a movie I wanted to see that would not still be showing when we got back home.
I'll have to admit that sometimes in my more mature years I have hesitated to go somewhere because of an interesting TV show that I wanted to see. But generally I did and do want to see my friends and relatives and look forward to opportunities to be with them. When you are middle age plus you realize very quickly how soon you will miss any chance to spend time with some of your longtime friends or relatives.
My sister and I have tried to think of people who have known us all of our lives. Right now I can only think of two such persons, and one is my sister. There are many people whom I have known all of THEIR lives. They are younger than me. But very few people are living who knew me when I was the age these young diners/texters. I guess since that is the case, I can get away with saying that I would have never been as rude as their actions seemed to me today.
I didn't have the equipment to do exactly what they were doing, but my mind might have been making similar gaps away from the occasion. I realize that with all the modern equipment available to most people these days, people can grow up and never ever even talk to someone face to face. But they can still communicate.