April 27, 2022
The internet can be so maddening. I love the internet. Can these seemingly opposite statements both be true at the same time? Yes, they can. In the way I do my work, and the way I live my life, the internet is an indispensable thing for me. Oh, I suppose I could find a way to get along without it, but life feels better when I’m plugged in. I’ve grown to count on my online connection just being there whenever I turn on one of my devices. I can’t imagine how these last two-plus years of pandemic would have gone if we collectively didn’t have the ability to use our technology to livestream worship, to have zoom meetings, to share things via our social media pages, and even to share things like this Noticings which comes to you via the internet. Not to mention the research I do online for things like The Porch and my sermons, and how email threads and weekly zoom coffee chats with colleagues have kept me afloat through the pandemic. So yes, it’s fair to say that I love the internet.
And I find it maddening. Sometimes it’s the content. Sometimes it’s the coarseness of human interaction online which too often dispenses with any sense of care or decorum and devolves into ugliness. Sometimes it’s the news of people standing for, advocating for, and doing things that I find abhorrent, but I can’t escape seeing it because it keeps intruding in my online places.
What’s most maddening though is when I can’t get connected! It’s so frustrating that one moment everything is flowing beautifully and the next moment you’re offline for some reason. You know that all your usual connections are functioning because you were all lit up a few minutes ago, but suddenly nothing seems to be working like it should. So you go through the list and follow the greatest technological wisdom ever shared: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” (it’s remarkable how often that works!). And if it doesn’t work on your devices then ultimately you go directly to the source (your modem) and turn it off and on. That’s called rebooting the system.
I bet you can see where this is headed. Our spiritual life is like the internet. Mysterious. Unseen. Yet powerful. It’s filled with wonderful connections, and marred by some maddening frustrations. When it’s all going well life feels fantastic – God’s Presence is everywhere and love abounds overflowingly. And then there are those times when nothing feels right. God was right here a minute ago, but now is nowhere to be found. And some of God’s people, well, they can be pretty maddening too. And I love them. Both can be true.
So if your Spirit-connection goes on the fritz intermittently I guess you need to figure out how to reboot your system. Like most things, it’s amazing how ‘turning yourself off and on again’ can work wonders. Maybe that’s a week of holidays (worked for me last week!). Maybe it’s a hot bath. Maybe it’s a walk in nature. Maybe it’s a hug. Maybe it’s a warm conversation. Maybe it’s immersing in art. Maybe it’s a quiet time of prayerfulness. It’s curious that the same things don’t always work. That’s mystery for you. But we need to try, because life feels better when we’re connected.
By the way, I wrote this Wednesday morning while my internet was out. If you don’t get it until Thursday, you’ll know what kind of maddening day I had. But I suspect after a few minutes all will be well. Right now I need to go and reboot the system.