In little droplets we give and get. 140 characters or less do their best to articulate the everyday mercy, the wide-eyed wonder, the treasure in the earthen vessel @thismoment. Maybe an is like a thousand words; or maybe it’s more like a cave drawing, a chalky sketch that leaves us wanting for details. We can’t write a blog post more than 500 words if we actually want someone to read it. We reel in one-liner comments on Facebook. We txt instead of call, shorten r words 2 get a quick point across, think there must be an emergency when the phone actually rings. Always little droplets.

“We are tempted to think that our little ‘sips’ of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation,” psychologist Sherry Turkle said in a recent New York Times article, “But they don’t…. As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions; we dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”

Too long we go thirsty with the dribble from the virtual faucet. A couple of weeks ago, I penciled an entry in my journal at the end of the night. “To go to sleep satisfied,” I wrote, “it is too rare a thing. But I have the gift of it tonight….” I had spent the morning cleaning to make the house ready for an old friend to visit. Around noon, we toasted some sandwiches, filled our cups with cold water and then I listened as she poured out the whole story of what she’d been through the last few years, a plot-line I could have never deciphered from the little blurbs she’d shared in virtual world. That evening, after I taught a lesson for eager English language-learners, I came right home and tapped out long paragraphs to point her to the Word at the beginning, the Word that spoke over the surface of the waters.

That same Word, now made flesh, spoke over the waters again when he asked an outcast of a woman for a drink from the well. Many of us have our reasons to guard ourselves from community, to give and get in little sips. Turkle continued, “[We] use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right…. Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to [mere] connection is part of this.”

But notice what happens here in front of the well. In face-to-face conversation with Jesus, this woman has no way to make herself presentable. She is found out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her run home and bolt the door shut, further cutting herself off from the world. Instead, the woman runs into town, toward community and brings the crowd back to the Living Water. When Holley Gerth mentioned the concept of “fitting in vs. belonging” on an inRL video Friday night, I grabbed the pen fast, scribbled down the words and wrote down the author’s name. Brené Brown’s written words speak so well to this story: “We can only belong when we offer our most authentic selves and when we’re embraced for who we are.”

On Saturday morning, I ventured out in real life, breathed in the cold damp, sloshed through drizzles without an umbrella. At the door of the bistro, I met the bold smell of coffee brewing. I walked around the hostess counter toward the back of the place. When I came near, I saw the centerpiece of the room, a table full of women, not just “apparitions flickering on the screen,” but flesh and bone and audible word. One looked up, met my eyes, not looking past, and waved for me to come on over. There in the middle of it all was one chair open, saved just for me. Across the table, one woman clinked a flask on another’s glass, pouring water, quenching thirst for community.

{Thanks to (in)courage for getting the ball rolling, bringing together groups of wordsmiths, fostering a sense of belonging and true community that is “seeded online and grows off line.” This weekend, I was blessed to “belong” with the women of The Tiny Twig, 4tunate, Seasoned Joy, Simply Sarah, Hot Fudge Sundae Life, The Barela Family, Only Here-Only Now, James Gang, and Snail Pace Transformations. And I would love for you to join me in real life on Saturday, May 19 as I lead worship for the Fully Satisfied Women’s Conference where we will meditate on living life beyond little droplets!}