Friday, September 01, 2006

Ah, Those Unplugged Days! I gave a retreat yesterday for a high school faculty, a wonderful group of Catholic school teachers and staff. As part of the modern routine before a presentation, the request was made for everyone to "silence" their cell phones. When I got up to lead the retreat, I asked everyone to take those little pieces of metal and plastic out again and hold them up. Cell phones, pagers, beepers, Blackberries, Blueberries, a ton of gizmos went up and hovered in the air. I think about 8 people out of 65 were NOT holding something up. We looked around in amazement. Fifteen years ago, I said aloud, there was nothing. We are a "plugged in" people, there's no denying it. And trust me, I'm one of the biggest technoholics around. But there are moments when we need to get unplugged. Escape. Become invisible, unreachable. We need the tonic of solitude and silence (remember Maine!). I say this first and foremost to myself. Yes, cell phones are handy little suckers, and they give us a sense of communication with others.... we're connected. But what about the faces right in front of us? Real, living, breathing human beings? A friend told me once about a dinner out, when he watched three young people sitting at a table across from him; all three of them were on their cell phones during the meal. Is it just me? Is that weird? What's wrong with this picture? IMAGINE THIS: Jesus, the Son of God, is sitting on a mountaintop, just outside the town of Jericho. He is revealing the mysteries of Heaven to a multitude of humanity, pouring forth in human words the incredible love of the Father and saying "Blessed are you who hunger and thirst after... " - beep beep BOOP ba BOOP BOOP ba BEEP BEEP... a cell phone starts playing the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. Off to the right of the hillside, a young man is standing on a boulder, trying desparately to get a picture of Jesus with his camera phone, below him two teenagers are text messaging their friends in Galilee "He's here! It's totally awesome! He's saying stuff and he's so awesome, totally!" I think I'm going to draw this someday as a cartoon. Can somebody send me a text message so I don't forget?
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