I've heard life is all about connection. That as humans, we are meant to connect with each other - we talk, we are social and we hash things out collectively. The human experience is about connection.
So I was in an early mass this weekend with my two young kids and being catholic, that means we are sequestered to silence for 1 hour of our Sunday. No matter how long we've been going, it is just difficult for them to not move much and not talk much, and me to deal with the latters. Kids have grown up saying what they think and asking many questions, and mine are innately mystified by whispering. My son was telling me a very perceptive observation about how the colors of the hanging decor at the alter had changed and he went on and on - are we in a different church? why aren't they blue? that man is different....and all I could do was keep shushing him and gave the quickest placating answer in hopes that he would just stop talking. And of course, my girl was talking to herself this whole time. And I realized that they were the only little kids in there at this early mass. The later mass is the "family mass." So for 40 minutes or so I shushed them intermittently, redirected them from standing on the kneeling pads, kneeling on the pew and sitting on me. All I saw were peoples backs and their heads turned from me. From behind me, I felt people looking at me. I dared not look to the side of me because simply everyone is facing forward, standing still and silent. I felt mildly conspicuous but that is such a common feeling in church with kids that it's par for the course. But there is an underlying shunned feeling when everyone is turned from you like that.
Then we were prompted to shake hands and offer a sign of peace to your neighbor. At that brief moment - all the bodies in front and to the side of me turned to each other and me - they looked at me with bright eyes, most of them remembering their own kids in church - The grandmas are probably thinking, "oh let them be, they're kids." While really thinking, "I wish I had those days back, they were so sweet and cute and innocent, now my son is doing X and my daughter just said Y... oh let them kick my pew and poke at my coat, its ok!" So I met eyes with everyone in front, across, to the side and behind us. They were all warm and shook my hand, some shook my kids' hands and of course i got to scoop up my babies and give them a piece of peace that only a mother can. And I felt the weight fall off - after that moment of connection, there was warmth, acceptance and fondness. I no longer minded as much that they couldn't seem to stop asking random questions, have to pee every 20 minutes or didn't get the whisper concept. We all met eyes and hands and by the looks on the stranger's faces, it felt ok. It was that connection that made it better. How can you feel that someone cares about you when they have their back to you and their eyes away?
So, yes, I guess, it is all about connection.