Technology Power Out

[Well, I wrote this VERY early Monday morning and it has taken until Tuesday to post – but the internet is working at last. Blessings on your day]

A few days ago my laptop started acting up. The screen would go blank for a few seconds until I adjusted the angle I was holding it.  Not too bad.  But yesterday it got worse.  And tonight I have had trouble typing more than a word or two at a time without the black screen of death.  No amount of adjusting would bring it back.  Nothing short of total reboot and fancy face-making prayers would let me continue with my work.

Saturday my phone died. I spent a hot, but otherwise perfect summer afternoon in the air conditioning of the Verizon shop. The young woman who helped us was lovely and kind. I admit, I love my new phone. In fact, I just used it as a hotspot during the few minutes at a time that my laptop was working to upload some critical financial records, just in case the laptop issues are terminal.

Why did I need to use the phone as a hotspot? Thank you for asking. It’s because yesterday afternoon, for no apparent reason, the wifi died in our home. Three days, three technogadgets gone.  I hesitate to ask what could be next!

It is times like these when a technology Sabbath sounds wonderful. Instead, however, I will find myself spending more time than ever worrying over the tools that connect me to the world.  There’s a new phone and probably a new laptop to set up.  Passwords to remember, programs to reinstall, new apps to purchase.  And fun things, of course, like picking out screen savers.  And there’s several hours tomorrow spent waiting for the AT&T repairman to come and hopefully have all the parts he needs to make our house buzz with data draining social media and games again.

One of my goals for this blog is to look at what is happening in my life at any given moment and look for spiritual truths.  That means there are a thousand different directions this post could take.  There’s the spiritual question of “Why me?” when everything happens all in the same weekend.  There’s the question of how being so reliant on technology affects our spiritual lives and our freedom on our spiritual journeys. There’s the realization that more technology and new technology can take away from our Sabbath time, as I mentioned above. I think these are all interesting, and I invite you to comment on them and continue the conversation.

But what keeps coming back to me is that one of my friends and long-time readers went into the hospital this afternoon – and that is a sorrow far deeper than my technology.  I talk about the phone and the laptop and the wifi dying, but her illness reminds me that there are real people living and dying in this moment too.  I have no doubt that her illness can be fixed, much like I hope my laptop can be fixed, but as my hospice chaplain friends witness so well, that is not always the case.

I don’t actually say this to be mournful or maudlin.  There is a part of me that is reminded that my worry over technology is a ‘first world problem,’ one that many people, even here in this country and in Savannah, can’t worry about because they have bigger issues.

But more than that, as I pray for my friend and my laptop screen to glow again in almost the same breath, I am filled with awe that through all of this I have been called to write and not to rant.  When the laptop will not work, pen and paper never power out.

Since I have adopted writing as a spiritual practice, I can almost directly chart the times that I panic and rage.  They are the time when my writing well is empty, when words fail me, and I have no expression but my anger and fear. In writing I can process by myself and share with others, both of which lead to a deeper peace, even when there can be no superficial peace.

I remember being told as a child to count to ten when the panic and anger flared.  As I started to explore spiritual practices beyond the traditional “church-y” ones, that elementary school chestnut came up.  1-2-3-4…. An important part of mindfulness training is to take a moment to notice what is happening in your body and emotions.  Counting is a good way to do that.  So, I think, is writing.

One day all my technology issues will be solved, one way or another, and this will be typed in and posted.  Until then, taking a moment to write has given me at least enough peace to lay down and try to sleep again.  I hope my friend will sleep well tonight too.

Have you ever had one of those days or weekends when several bad things happen all at once? I find myself superstitiously counting three things and saying surely there can’t be more.  And then I worry that by saying that I’ll cause something more.  How does superstition play a role in your spiritual journey? Do you notice it? When you think about spiritual issues, does technology play a role?  How? Do you have spiritual practices that help you deal with the things that you fear or that make you angry?  For whom are you especially praying today?

Once all my technology issues are solved, I’ll be back in contact through Openings: Let the Spirit In. If it takes a little while to respond, I’m still sleeping off a restless night!

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