. . . but the LORD was not in the wind
. . . but the LORD was not in the earthquake
. . . but the LORD was not in the fire (1 Kings 19:11–12)
I sat in the spiritual director’s office and wept. It was the darkest time I’d ever experienced and I was doing my level best to make my life—and the lives of everyone in my wake—a living hell. I had decided I was done with the church, and I was still trying to decide if I was done with Jesus. The director just sat there watching me while I heaved big, wet, snotty sobs.
“When was the last time you were quiet?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I responded, wiping my eyes with my shirt sleeve.
“When was the last time you just sat quietly with no music, books, TV, or internet to distract you? When was the last you just were just silent? Oh, and sleeping doesn’t count”
“I don’t . . .” I sighed. “I don’t even know.”
It was true. I seriously could not think of a recent time of prolonged silence.
After a long pause he said, “It seems your emptiness has caught up with you.”
Troubling the water
For most of recorded history, you couldn’t get away from it. The farmer, monk, chef, and seamstress all worked in relative silence within the rhythms of the day, month, and year. Gradually, technology intruded upon those rhythms and upset that silence.
Electric light extended the evening and absconded with our rest. Radio introduced constant chatter, and television doubled down on that chatter requesting our total attention. Our ability to play music in our homes has gone through a regular evolution becoming more and more mobile. When I was a teen, I was excited for the ability to listen to a portable cassette; now I carry thousands of albums around with me.
Right now there’s a device in my pocket which allows me access most of the world’s knowledge, music, games, and film—and many of its people. It’s a technological wonder that would amaze people from just 25 years ago. I mostly use it to watch cat videos (my wife will corroborate).
It goes without saying that this is not the daily cycle of a healthy individual
My average day looks like this:
Wake up and grab my phone and scroll through multiple social media channels (in a timeless loop)
Get out of bed rush around (while periodically checking my phone for notifications)
Drive to work with music playing, pull into work and check phone one more time
Work while listening to music when I can, or just listening to co-workers talk to themselves when I can’t
Head home listening to music
Eat dinner with the family (check my phone if I can get away with it)
Do some writing while listening to music
Watch television (while checking my phone)
Get ready for bed
Climb into bed and stare at my phone some more
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