One more road-trip post! We recently purchased a new vehicle and took it on a much shorter road trip to Zion and Bryce National Parks in southern Utah. This new high-tech Honda CR-V has lots of bells and whistles—though what has really caught my attention is its beeps. The fancy new technology includes ACC, which stands for Adaptive Cruise Control. This technology uses cameras in the front of the vehicle to keep you a certain distance—which you can vary—behind the car in front of you. The car speeds up and slows down as the cars ahead of you do the same—up to the cruising speed that you have set.
I don’t mind the adaptability of this cruise control system. I like it, in fact. The problem for me is that it beeps every time a car moves in or out of range. That beep bugs me, especially as a passenger. I wish they didn’t go together, but they do. Henry likes the beep and, since one reason for the newer technology is to assist older drivers, I will put up with it in the interest of safety.
But that beep got me thinking about the various uses of technology in our lives. Some technological innovations are excellent, and I wouldn’t want to return to the old way of doing things. (For example, I’m typing my first draft of this blog post on my laptop in that new car while Henry drives!) I recently had a fascinating conversation with a college friend who teaches a seminary class called Digital Culture and Spirituality. As a Christian Educator, she is highly interested in how spirituality is being shaped by digital culture and how we can use digital culture to bring spirituality to younger generations. I’m particularly interested because of the retreat series I’m developing on the Ministry of Jesus through the Eyes of Others. She gave me some interesting ideas and pointed me in the direction of additional resources to explore.
Which brings me full circle to the beep. Younger generations are used to all sorts of noises coming from technology, which surrounds them every waking moment. I’m used to silence. It got me thinking about how we need to bridge that gap between silence and noise, stimulation and relaxation. Both are critical to a balanced life. I need the occasional beeps in my life to keep me on track—and I also need the silence to support my listening for the voice of the Spirit in my life. Younger generations need that too. My church recently completed its second multi-session Mindfulness for Children program, which teaches children meditation practices. I think this is critical in an overstimulated world.
What beeps surround you? What purpose do they serve? Are you aware of them or do you take them for granted?
Do you seek silence? What purpose does it serve in your life? Do you have balance between stimulation and stillness?
The beeps and chirps of my Smartphone are totally annoying; usually I don’t know what it wants. That’s why I have it on Do Not Disturb, from bedtime through morning meditation time. I need my silence.
I hear you, Suzanne! (Find a teen to help you with those smartphone beeps.) Smart of you to use Do Not Disturb. I also use it and have only once regretted it, when someone texted me in the middle of the night to say that a spouse had died…and it turned out okay because God was always with her. 🙂
I would take that course your friend teaches!
When I sit down to meditate, I’m frustrated by the notifications/texts that pop up on my phone that I also use as meditation timer. When one single device is so multi-functional, how do we best use it as a spiritual tool without getting distracted? Then there’s the spiritual concept of God being in and around all we do, so… Sometimes it feels like a whirlwind.
Yes, Sondra, I think the class would be fascinating. And yes, it’s difficult to have an all-in-one gadget. I think that’s one reason why people used to meditate in groups, so that only one person has to pay attention to the time. Some timers, I think, will silence most everything else…maybe you can find one of those…or get a kitchen timer–a uni-tasker! As to what whirlwind–imagine what that was like for our ancestors, who saw God in everything around them….