I have a few minutes between classes so I thought I’d post a little reflection on something that’s been on my mind recently.
As you know, I’ve been frequenting the Moscow Patriarchate YouTube Channel from time to time over the last week or so and have come across some really marvelous videos of the liturgical life of the Patriarchate. There are the mind-bogglingly huge gatherings at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, where the procession of bishops out of the altar takes 20 minutes. Then there are the smaller gatherings, of the Patriarch and a few people serving with him; visiting monasteries, parishes, doing pilgrimages. And the amazing thing is that we can see it, we can see it all. I can, sitting in Tuckahoe, NY watch something going on in Moscow. Instantly. The question often discussed is whether we were ever meant to see something like this. We’re connected, instantly, with people around the world. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye *ba da dum, ba da dum* AT the last trumpet! *continuo riff*
But there is a price we pay with this instant connection. I know I find myself using it as a substitute for actual contact with my friends. How bizarre and sad. It’s almost like we’re loath to call someone on the phone and talk to them. Instead we text, email, message, and tweet. It’s almost selfish. No, I take that back. It is selfish, and many of us are culprits. We justify it by saying how busy we are, how we’ve got so much work, so many responsibilities, so much this and that. But is it that hard to pick up the phone for 15 minutes of the day and call a friend you haven’t spoken to in 6 months? Do we even take 15 minutes to talk to God a day? Too often, we don’t. We get so bogged down by the things we believe are most important. Sometimes they are important, and sometimes they are not. Whatever the case, our relationships take precedence; we need people, we need support, we need help.
Social media is an odd thing, and as much as I use it, I’m not sure I actually like it. I definitely spend too much time on YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, blogs, etc. Pretty much everyone I talk to feels the same about it, we’re always talking about getting out and doing things: meeting friends, exercising, going to concerts, reading for pleasure, taking a nap… All the things we say we’re going to do instead of spending another hour on Facebook. It reminds me of a song by the late Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” one of my favorite folk-rock artists.
I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than I need to spend less time online and more time offline. Clean Monday and Tuesday (the silent retreat) were divine, I was unplugged and in silence. And I made a promise to myself that I would start calling my friends. And, to a certain extent, I’ve been successful, although I still have a ways to go. Even this blog is an artificial means of reaching out to those out there. But maybe some good can come out of it, even if Blogging is the Devil.
This Lent (or Eastertide for my Western Christian brothers and sisters), unplug. I know it’s something I need to do, and maybe if we all make some time, and all make the effort, we’ll get to see and speak and spend some time together. I certainly miss all of you who’re out there in the ether.