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Multiple exercises in unexpected detachment gave Heidi Hess Saxton some food for thought as she prepared for a long-awaited family Thanksgiving celebration.

One morning, about a week ago, I woke up to discover that Facebook had abruptly closed my account because an Instagram hacker had posted something “against community standards.” So … phht. Twelve years’ worth of pictures and memories and thousands of personal and professional connections … vanished in an instant. My husband, the IT genius, was even angrier than I was. “They can’t DO that! You haven’t done anything wrong!” Ah, but as it turned out, they could. 

My first instinct was damage control, and so I leapt to open another account—only to discover that each time I put in a familiar name, I would get a finger-wagging message chastising me for attempting to “friend” people I don’t know in real life. Except I DID know them, in some cases for well over a decade. Go figure. 

Finally, a little light began to dawn. What are You trying to teach me here, God? I muttered over my keyboard. Did I need a new way to connect with people? Did He want me to free up my time for other opportunities ahead? Did He simply want me to get off my phone and live a little? 

Good questions. All of them.  




As I began to rebuild my Facebook page with a new email address (okay, so I’m a little stubborn), I thought of what Teresa of Avila wrote in her classic treatise on prayer about the relationship between humility, detachment, and holiness: 

These two virtues, humility and detachment from self, it is true, have the property of hiding themselves from the one who possesses them; he never sees them nor can believe that he has any of them, even if he be told so. But he has them, for he is forever trying to keep them, and perfecting them in himself more and more.  (The Way of Perfection 10.4) 


I spent a lot of time thinking about this gift of detachment in the Denver Airport this weekend, having promised my husband not to use my iPhone for anything except phone calls until we got to the bottom of the hacker mystery. I was here primarily to attend a Well-Read Mom Conference, which emphasized the importance of laying aside digital communications in order to pursue deep reading of the printed page in order to think more clearly, share more authentically with others, and grow in virtue.  

Surely that was worth the loss of a few thousand “cyber friends.” Right? 

Letting myself into the apartment at the end of the trip, I saw that a leaky pipe from the apartment above us had flooded my kitchen, and a large section of the ceiling had fallen onto the countertops, destroying the antique mahogany silverware chest that had belonged to my great-grandmother. Oh, goodie. Detach. Detach. Detach some more.  




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I had a choice. I could complain, or I could rejoice—for I still had so much to be thankful for. #CatholicMom


No sooner had the words of aggravation escaped my lips, I realized I had a choice. I could complain, or I could rejoice—for I still had so much to be thankful for. Top of the list: a family who would be here in a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving a little early. For the first time in nearly a year, my mother will be able to visit us at home (I found a place that rents wheelchair-accessible vans) so we can celebrate her birthday and get another family photo together.

Dinner will be a little less festive, with the great hole in the ceiling. But if we keep our gaze on each other, and let the little things go, it will still be joyful.  



Copyright 2023 Heidi Hess Saxton
Images: silverware chest photo copyright 2023 Heidi Hess Saxton; all others Canva