I have a friend whose motto is "Simplify, simplify, simplify." So I'm thinking about simplifying on this tmorning when less is more, when one fewer dogs grace my heels, when the one I have is sitting on those heels, demanding that I be everything to her in such a way that all that I might do is given over to being with her. Simplifying the tasks and the work and the 'things' of this day.
We live in a culture that more is always better, that the newer is the one we should surely upgrade to own. Upgrade itself only became a word in tandem with multi-tasking, texting and more recently skyping and Kindles, Nooks. We have Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, Ibooks, I...well I just about everything. All created to make our lives just a little easier, a little more streamlined, supposedly.
But last night, I was tripping over cords on my way to bed and thought how ridiculous all these things are--how distracting. Yes, how blasted distracting they've become. I just wanted to kneel beside my bed and lay before my God my fresh grief about my dog, my coming grief about my father-in-law, my ongoing grief about my son--and the tangled web of cords was in my way. How has it come to this? We have a very small bedroom, I admit. Most people don't try to have a King-sized bed in a 12 x 14 room. But most people don't try to sleep with a king-sized man--I double dog dare you to try. I did it for our first summer, and finally gave up when I almost lost my mind one night for lack of sleep.
Anyway, all these cords and their accompanying electronic devices have made me consider--AGAIN--how to practice the simplicity so important in order to be in balance with Christ. At least for me. Many years ago, Beve spoke of reading a sentence in a book which has been a signpost for us in our marriage: "The tyranny of the urgent." This is the idea that most of us spend most of our time worrying about and working in relation to the critical, the top of the heap issues that are flung our way, rather than paying attention to what really counts. We live this way for long stretches, moving from this task to that one, finishing one so that we can move to the next one, then the next, then flop into bed and do it all over again. And not surprisingly, the marketplace has learned what to do to aid in this practice. The abundance and variety of these multi-tasking, communication, make-your-life-easier, keep-everything-organized and keep-you-entertained devices are evidence that we are an urgent people. We have places to go, important places, and important things to do. And somehow we think we must have all these things to aid us in these vitally important tasks. WE MUST.
We've forgotten how to sit quietly. Just to sit. We've forgotten how to allow whatever is actually going on in our lives to stop us in our tracks long enough so that we feel it, lean into it and let it work itself into whatever God intends from it. I think of that work--that HOLY work--this morning. I woke up this morning and instantly looked toward the floor outside my bedroom door, where, for the last decade, a beautiful soft haired, white lab was curled like a croissant, waiting for me to get up. I knew he wouldn't be there, but I looked anyway, because I wanted...well, I just looked.
No, I know what I wanted. I wanted to dive into what I'm really feeling. I WANT to feel this sadness. I don't want to move faster away from grief than God wants me to move, whether it's about a dog or a dad. Or a son whose pain bewilders and frightens and makes me want the distraction. But how dare I? How dare I turn my face from what God is doing right now. I don't want to miss what God has for me, to be distracted by all the high-tech, artificial devices that do not keep me face to face with HIM. Though I know--and have been blessed to know--that God uses the Internet (particularly the unbelievably rich blogging world) to create a fellowship of believers across time-zones and cultures, these do not--cannot--take the place of what happens when one person sets down the computer, the phone, the Ipad, the whatever, and clears away every other task, to settle her heart on HIM. But in order to able to have the kind of relationships we want with those around us--whether in person or online--we must be present with Him, not merely for a breath but for the space of time it takes to build that relationship. Such a relationship cannot be hurried. It must be walked through at a leisurely pace, with quietness within, and the ability to lay down the urgent to for the vital--for Him. Only then can we be present to those who need us. And only then, will there be the wisdom and strength and peace and joy inside He wants to extend to those we come in contact with. And isn't this where we should set our hearts? On the things above, where Christ is? And then on those around us? Paul says so--read Colossians 3, if you don't believe me.
This means, I think, saying no at times to electronic devices, and definitely no to the myriad things that pull at us from all directions. Just saying no and taking our place before Him, with Him. And allowing Him to grow in us the quietness that emanates throughout the rest. It's only then we can say, with Paul (though this is slightly out of context, he had no more idea of electronic devices and our way of life than he did of flight),
"I have the right to do anything...but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything--but I will not be mastered by anything." 1 Corinthians 6: 12