The very first computer I ever owned was a used Macintosh purchased from a couple I was preparing for marriage. When it was acquired I was actually unsure if I needed it. Now here I am twenty-five years later completely surrounded by smartphones, tablets, laptops and the “cloud.” It is unimaginable making it through the day without these devices. While I am completely immersed in computer technology I am not exactly sure how these machines function. However, in the world of Apple I have learned one valuable lesson: when all else fails, “restart.” A friend explained to me that as we ask these machines to preform a multitude of functions and as they jump here and there downloading, uploading, composing, responding, deleting, sorting and searching the World Wide Web, the insides tend to get gummed up. When you restart the device it clears the decks and repositions the mechanism for a fresh new beginning.
I often feel like those multitasking devices. Every day I find myself having to fracture my attention and operate on a multitude of levels: one moment celebrating the birth of an infant and the next offering consolation to the recently bereaved. I suspect our entire culture is attempting to exist on complex platforms and we become lost in the jangling demands of everyday existence. Where is that restart command? How do we find that wonderful refresher that enables us to sweep away the confusion, the details and the loss?
For me, I find that respite in prayer, laughter and in nature. It’s true that there is something grounding in personal contemplative prayer but also in the silence that can occur in church congregations. There is a marvelous moment created when everyone is quiet, still and the prayers rise in a perfectly focused moment. Do you remember the last time you laughed out loud? Not the polite and appropriate titter that we incorporate into conversation but that belly laugh bursting out, shaking the frame and releasing the tension. The mirth that puts everything into perspective and enables us to see the world as a divine comedy. And then there is the beauty of the earth – just consider the light as it rises and falls at the beginning and ending of each day. I find the morning to be an especially sacred time – blurred illumination through the fog and on some brilliant days, the beginning of colors in the sky anticipating the emergence of the sun.
All of these moments are a natural form of restart for me and help me to reposition myself in the proper direction. It is impossible to imagine life without technology but equally unimaginable is an existence without the sacred, everyday manifested in beauty, laughter, friends, art and the holy conversation.This city now doth, like a garment, wear the beauty of the morning; silent bare, ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie open unto fields and to the sky. All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep in his splendor, valley, rock or hill. Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will. Dear God! The very houses seem asleep; And all that might heart is lying still! William Wordsworth