So, I got a new phone last week. It’s pretty cool. It’s one of those ones you’ve seen on Verizon commercials, where they play music for someone. Yes. It plays music. It is very cool. I do not have any kind of MP3 player yet, so I’m enjoying the three songs I’ve downloaded. I’ve spent the better part of my free time this week just exploring the coolness of my new phone.
I love when I get something new, and the newness is part of its appeal, and I spend many hours admiring my new thing—whatever it may be: a haircut, a pair of shoes, a CD…. I am also not one of those people who see in evil in new technology. Take the internet, for example. The internet has become something of a tragedy, at least morally, because of i-porn. Yet the ease of communicating with people all over the world, and the amount of knowledge contained on virtually any and every subject, makes it a worthwhile tool.
Technology is like anything else man-made: it has the potential to be used for good, and an equal (perhaps some would argue greater) potential to be used for evil. Telephones—and cell phones—allow us to talk to people all over the world. But they also interrupt our lives with sales calls, and keep us occupied when we ought to be focusing on the world in front of us instead of the person on the other end of the line (*ahem! Drivers! ahem!*). Still, I know that I would have been pretty lost these last few years if I hadn’t been able to communicate—by cell phone—with my best friends from college. Who all live several states away.
Even though I have been pretty occupied with my new “toy,” and enjoying it very much (my default ringtone is the chorus of David Crowder’s “Turkish Delight”!!!) I still have had other things on my mind this week.
One is, I recently had the most challenging day of Lent so far. I was at my Pregnancy Care Centers job, working, I might add, on a major database transfer, because we are switching programs, when we decided to take a tiny break and go take a peek at the yard sale that was going on just around the corner and up a flight of stairs from our office (which you may remember is located in the same church building where my dad works). I was looking around at all the stuff—typical yard sale stuff: stuffed animals, old happy meal toys, mismatched glasses and plates, etc. Then I saw the table of—you guessed it—books. I was immediately drawn to it, thinking surely it couldn’t hurt to look and see what they had. I hadn’t brought any money up with me, so I didn’t get anything—then.
But there was a book called “Colourful England” with pictures of old buildings (my boss showed it to me) that I wanted to come back for. She offered to spot me the money to get it, anmd I should have let her, because when I came back to get it, I ended up with an armful of books. Fourteen, to be exact. (But I got them all for $3.00!!) And as I’d stood there, pawing through the bins, glancing at the titles and occiasonlly the back blurbs, I suddenly got a sense of what it was I’d committed to for the Lenten season.
I bought a boxful of books that I cannot read, not for another twenty-eight days. I thought for the first couple of weeks that this would be no big deal, because even if I was giving up books, there were still movies to be watched. And there were always things to read in magazines, and in articles online; I hadn’t given those up. But being at that yard sale was a challenge: it was like making dinner for everyone, and tasting a tiny bit to make sure it was okay, but not eating any yourself.
I was challenged again, later that night, at the Chinese Church. It was, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, and I brought a little book to help them understand who he really was and why we have a day to celebrate him. I consulted with God on the way there if it would be okay to read it to them. But once there, I asked if anyone else would be willing to read it to the class. Several of my students took turns. (This was very hard for me because I love reading books like that to kids, and you know how children read.) When I had to help Stephen pronounce an Irish word (“shillelagh”) a couple of my kids reminded me that I was not supposed to be reading books.
Just before Lent started, I had been reading “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” to the PCC kids. They were a little dismayed when I told them of my vow to give up reading books for the next forty-seven days. So that later, on the same night I’ve been describing, I asked if anyone else would like to read a chapter to the class. No one did. I asked them if they still wanted to hear some of it. They did. I asked them if they thought it would be okay for me to read a few pages to them. They did. So I read a chapter. I’m not sure if I ought to feel terrible about this; after all, it was only a chapter, and it wasn’t for me, it was for the kids.
But reading is so…part of me. I had to remind myself this morning of why it was that I gave it up in the first place. I’m not going to exaggerate and tell you that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done; it’s not. Even though I am surrounded by books that I would normally have no qualms about snatching up and reading for several hours, it’s been nearly no trouble at all finding other ways to fill up my time. I have a sneaking suspicion that quitting the TV would be much harder, and that worries me just a little.
Well, this post is long enough for now, even despite the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve written. If you happen to see someone reading, perhaps you could offer up a quick prayer for me, that I’m learning what I’m supposed to be learning through this time. Thanks!