When I lived in Scotland many years ago (1979-82), staying touch with family and friends was a bit difficult. As a doctoral student at Kings College, Aberdeen University, I was without an income. Phone calls were expensive and therefore were only made for very important reasons and not for weekly updates. To begin with our primary means of communication was the blue aerogram. My wife and I would post a letter from Aberdeen. It took 10 days for that letter to travel to friends and family in the USA. Seldom did anyone respond on the same day our letters arrived, so typically we received a letter from family or friends about once every 3-4 weeks.
Eventually we began to exchange cassette tapes. These could be recorded over time, so that when a 30-40 minute cassette arrived it was quite an event. Marilyn and I would save it for the evening. Then after dinner, we drew our chairs up close to the coal fire (which unknowingly contributed much to my mercury poisoning later), with a nice dessert and listened to the cassette. We often paused it to laugh or to discuss what we had heard, savoring the moment and stretching out the experience as much as possible. We looked forward to those cassettes with longing and joy.
But thanks to today’s technology, things are very different. I receive emails of course nearly every day from my family. We also make use of Facetime and yesterday, Saturday, Facetime served us very well.
Saturday morning in Kennewick, WA (Saturday evening here in Kathmandu) my newest grandchild, James, was baptized by his father, Fr. Jesse Philo. This was the first of my Philo grandchildren that I was not able to baptize myself and I was sad about not even being able to attend the service. However, minutes before the service began my daughter sent an email to me and offered to use Facetime during the service. Just before the service began, I reached my daughter, Matushka Elizabeth, via Facetime. She was just entering the church of the St. John Maximovitch parish, and with Facetime I was able to watch the entire service from start to finish. In fact, I often had the “best seat in the house” since the IPhone was taken “up close and personal” so that I could see everything very clearly.
At times, I found myself even singing along to the responses and I joyfully joined in the singing of “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ . . .” What a blessing to see the baptism of James. What a blessing to see my family and friends gathered together in worship at St. John’s. So much better than awaiting a cassette report after the fact. I went to bed last night full of the joy and love of the Lord, having seen my loved ones safe in the House of God. – Fr.S.