In the Book of Deuteronomy Moses is described as the only prophet to ever see God “face to face.” Biblical commentators have often understood this metaphor to mean that Moses had an intimacy with God unlike any other prophet, and that he was able to command God’s attention whenever he needed to do so.
One of the benefits of face to face communication is the live feedback transmitted through body language and facial expressions. Now that we have technology that allows us to see and speak with people virtually, we are able to engage in intimate relationships and conversations with distant friends and family through Facetime, ZOOM, GoogleChats and the like.
I remember that when I was a youngster that we would wait for my father to come home from work and we would all sit down for dinner. Dinner time was an opportunity to reconnect with my brother and parents and review the day’s accomplishments. Times have changed and with busier lives families are together less frequently for personal face time. And with the internet, cell phones, and social media, how often do our mechanical devices distract us and prevent us from being truly present?
A recent article in the New York Times by Elizabeth Grace Saunders about reconnecting in a world that fights for your attention affirms that the most meaningful relationships tend to thrive when they are face to face. Saunders offers a number of suggestions for integrating face-to-face interaction:
- EAT TOGETHER. Eating together as a family requires intentional effort. You may want to reassess the timing of your extracurricular activities to see if you can align your schedules to allow everyone to have a seat at the table. You may also want to see if you can adjust your work schedule so you can make it home to eat with your spouse or children. And to get the full benefit of those meals, keep away the phones and turn off the television. The goal is not just to eat but to get a sense of what’s going on in everyone’s lives.
- WIND DOWN TOGETHER. Winding down together before going to bed is another important opportunity for reconnection. Some people form a pact with their significant other to be off technology by a certain time of night and to use the time to check in with each other. Being tech-free before bedtime may help you rest more peacefully.
- LIVE LIFE TOGETHER. The best opportunity for face-to-face, meaningful connection is to invite family members into whatever you are already doing. Ask your kids to help you cook. Invite your spouse to walk the dog with you. Connection develops and strengthens in the little day-to-day moments. In her book Daring Greatly Brene Brown says, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something we nurture and grow.”
Making those deeply personal, face-to-face connections a priority in your family will help build meaningful bonds. The best relationships are built face to face. Face to face meetings have the power to change people.
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin finds a hint about the importance of doing things face to face in the construction of the biblical tabernacle, the portable sanctuary that the Israelites carried with them in their wanderings. Moses is instructed to build the lid of the Ark of the Covenant with two angels on top, “and their faces will be as a man facing his brother.” (Exodus 5:20) God then says: “That is where I will meet with you.” In other words, in the space between two faces, we find God, and God finds us!
May we all create meaningful relationships that will last forever. Chances are, if they are face to face, we will be more likely to succeed.