By Rev. Heather Blais, Rector
Over the last year or so I have been praying, wondering, and experimenting with what it might look like to live a slightly simpler life. At thirty-two, nearly all of my adult life has been energized by the connectedness of the online world through email, social media, text messaging, and smartphones. All of these online tools can be a great resource for connecting people and increasing productivity and efficiency. Yet what I started to notice was there is a cost to such connectedness. There is a constant sense of urgency and a buzzing that never seems to quiet, let alone the way social media can consume your time and leave you wondering if all those meme's, videos, and political rants from your cousin Jimmy were really worth what precious time you have free on any given day.
What I found myself realizing was that I yearned for more stillness, more time to follow the words of God in Psalm 46: "Be still and know that I am God." There seems to be less and less room for stillness, for boredom in our world, and yet these things are what give us the fertile soil to grow in God. In an attempt to follow this tugging God had put on my heart over the last year I began to use social media less and stopped checking my email on my Sabbath. I had been pondering whether to return to that old fashioned notion of a house and work phone instead of individual smartphones that lead to that constant sense of connectedness and urgency.
While in the San Francisco Bay Area this September for my continuing education program, it came up that one of my colleagues, a Rector of a fairly large parish, did not have a smartphone. My response was, "Really, you can do that?" He gently reminded me that "Of course. Smartphones, after all, are a relatively new invention and the Jesus Movement has been around for 2,000 years." It got me considering the notion of doing away with an individual smartphone even more seriously, but honestly, it wasn't until I accidentally put my smartphone in the washing machine for 20 minutes before realizing where I had misplaced my phone that I decided to let go of the phone. [By the way--it turns out smartphones, even in their Otterbox cases, cannot survive a good washing, even after a long soak in rice afterwards. I wouldn't recommend trying it at home]. When I felt joy and relief after losing my smartphone, I realized, God had put an opportunity before me and that it was time to go with God on this one. It's been roughly a month of being smartphone free, and it has brought more stillness and quiet time with God that has been incredibly fruitful.
You might be asking yourself why I am sharing all this, but in large part it is because I wanted you to understand where I was coming from in my decision to let go of an individual smartphone. You can reach me at work and at home. As has been my custom, during my Sabbath from Thursday evening through Saturday afternoon I only respond to pastoral emergencies. We will have a family smartphone that the Wardens will be able to reach me on when I am traveling out of state. I will no longer be able to receive text messages. You can always email me.
The other reason I share this experience with you is in case you may have a yearning for more stillness or more quiet with God. It may not look like less social media or giving up your smartphone, but if you have a similar yearning, I would urge you to listen and see where God takes you. What might blossom in the fertile soil of stillness and quiet in God?
Yours in Christ,
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