“Remember when we had a dial-up connection?” Helen asked me the other day.
I still remember the first website I ever saw on the internet. My brother, Stewart, was visiting Cooperstown and had a laptop — the Monitor or Merrimack of laptops — that he hooked up to the phone line to dial-up the internet. I was amazed that he had the world at his fingers and asked him to show it to me .
“Hmmm,” he mused, “you should see a good website for your first one. Let’s try whitehouse.gov.”
He typed it in and we waited. And waited. And waited. The page loaded incrementally and it took several minutes for the whole thing to appear. Still, I was impressed. If I remember correctly, there were flag gifs in the corners. Like this:
Remember those days? When gifs were everywhere?
In the early days of the internet — early for me, that is — I wanted to be a part of it. Philip, now a web developer, designed a page for me that is long gone. I wish I could remember the website name. The most viewed part of that initial site, though, was where I posted what we were having for dinner each night. For real.
My next attempt was called Homelife, on Blogspot, in 2004. I remember being frustrated with the site, not being able to get it to do what I wanted it to do, and not understanding enough to fix it.
Then life happened. Full-bore, hard, heavy life. We moved. My mother’s Alzheimer’s became undeniable. Kids were growing up and having grown-up struggles. My faith was tried. I knew that writing would help me process all that was happening, but I really didn’t know how to blog. (See first attempt.)
So I did what I usually do. I jumped in, both feet, and started trying to figure it all out. That’s how this blog came to be.
I tell you all this because the blogging world opened up an amazing community to me.
It reconnected me with old friends — like Susan at awestruckwonder.
It brought new friends into my life — like Anna at The Annalist, and William Kendall, my most faithful commenter.
If you’re scratching your head and wondering when I am going to get to A Diary of Private Prayer, I’m almost there.
So I wrote about my mother’s Alzheimer’s and my faith. Alzheimer’s definitely hit a nerve — it’s such an awful illness and so many people are struggling to cope with its realities in their loved ones.
One person who began reading was a lady I knew from church. I didn’t know her well, but I knew who she was. Then she moved. Far away. Like Kentucky or something. But she kept following my blog and commenting, usually privately, to me on Facebook. Her mother had Alzheimer’s.
One day three years ago a little package came in the mail from my Kentucky friend. She was going through her books and thought I might like John Baillie’s A Diary of Private Prayer. She had no idea that this would become one of my favorite books of all time.
Did I mention that I love this book?
So my point (and I did have one, as my sister likes to say) is that the internet, and especially blogging, has opened up worlds for me. And as I have traveled its roads, unexpected treasures have come.
This book was one of the most unexpected treasures. Its title speaks for itself. The prayers in it are amazing — it covers a month, with prayers for morning and evening.
Even though I credit the internet for bringing it into my hands, it was really a person — flesh and blood — who stuck it in an envelope with a note and mailed it to me.
And people think the internet is destroying real world interactions.