A Little Rectangle of Light

A Little Rectangle of Light

My phone’s battery life is pathetic so I was recently very pleased to figure out how to charge  it while I am out on a walk. Charging my phone this way doesn’t require a portable charging bank. I simply plug it in at my house and then I leave on the walk. When I come back, the phone is charged, and so am I.

Over the last few months, I have felt uncomfortably called to find ways to ‘unplug’ and to love unplugging. I fought it for a long time. I had tight, reasonable, realistic reasons: I need my phone, this is modern society, this is a pandemic where technology helps us social distance, what if someone needs to get ahold of me… I’m sure you resonate with these.

While clinging to my precious reasons-why-I-had-to-have-my-phone, I heard a Sunday worship leader include a line about screens while leading our church in prayer. That wasn’t the theme for the morning, it was just a few words that stood out and lodged deeply in my heart. It was a simple prayer to “forgive us, God, when we turn to our screens again and again throughout our day and we do not turn toward you”. Oof.

My phone is a little rectangle of light, promising to carry my messages and presence to others, promising to carry their presence to me whenever I wish. The concept is narcissistic magic. Mirror, mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?  Who has messaged me, tagged me in a post, wants to talk to me right now? My phone promises to connect me to all of that instantly.

I risk being overly dramatic when I borrow an old name for my little light-carrying rectangle – from the Greek luci-, meaning ‘light’ and -fer, meaning ‘bearer, carrier’. Referring to my smart phone as a lucifer seems to go ‘too far’ but I can think of no other form in my life which is so insidious and so I will risk the comparison. My phone promises so much and could be used for such good and yet in my hands, it is too much.

I will not bore you with how (with ample imperfection) I find ways to ‘unplug’. When we are ready, the Spirit faithfully walks with each of us, showing us the Next Good Step. And the more I let go of the lucifer, the more space there is to really see Christ in other people, Christ in created nature if I just look up and listen out.

I don’t find this letting go to be easy – not as easy as scrolling through my phone – but it is simple and brings me joy and peace.