There were many pictures, articles and memes on social media regarding the visit of Pope Francis to the United States this past September that caught my eye. Some were very creative and insightful, if tongue-in-cheek, like the meme with the pontiff speaking to Congress labeled “Pope Francis visits the Sick”. Touché’. Perhaps the most captivating image from last month was one that could have applied to any historical or otherwise important moment in the lives of, well, all of us. It was a photograph of a crowded city corner with a mob of people apparently trying to get a glimpse of the pontiff. The picture shows no less than 15 people – from older teens to the middle-aged – with phones outstretched in hopes of capturing a souvenir photo. All of them are looking up to see if their phone is at the right angle or looking down into the screen to be sure they have captured the perfect shot. All, that is, but one of them. In the center of the image is an elderly, silver-haired woman, leaning over the barricade and gazing lovingly at the object of her affection as she smiles from ear to ear. She has no phone or camera in hand. What she certainly has, however, is something that most of the crowd around her only wish they had: a memory of the moment.
I have written in my blog before about this techno generation we live in with its ever-present screens and anticipated immediacy. We have the ability to take a video, download it to Facebook and transmit it to our relatives across the globe in a matter of seconds. What we are not able to do however, science fiction notwithstanding, is go back in time to actually enjoy the moment. Mind you, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Though not as prolific as others, my wife and I have taken many pictures and videos over the years. They are fun to look back on and make for great TBT (throw-back Thursday) fodder. Still, if we are going to be honest with ourselves we must admit that there are times when we are more interested in “capturing” the moment than actually being in it. Being present to each other and soaking up every moment of history as we actually live it; now THAT is a message worth remembering.