Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013.11.10 Cyberspirituality—Who Needs Connection?

People today, especially those in my mature generation, tend to say that young folks on their devices all the time aren’t connecting, that what they love to do is not embodied connectedness and therefore doesn’t count.  True— and yet I wonder. I communicate all the time with God and the only body present is mine! 

Here is a wise quote in a book called Radical Optimism—Practical Spirituality In an Uncertain World  by Beatrice Bruteau:

Meditation is a way of meeting God. It is not a matter of thinking about someone who is absent. It is engaging someone who is present, indeed supremely present. It is the realization of this presence that is the main point of meditation.

Well, I thought, is that not what we do when we punch and stroke and spread our fingers like wings over a tiny screen, when we tap keys, tick tick, when we go online and chat delightedly with someones we know and someones we never saw and don’t know, maybe on the other side of the world; when we share photos; when we read blog words and comment?  

Is cyber-communication a form of spiritual meditation, perhaps meditative? Godde know it’s intense,  and God knows it commands total attention and draws one into an almost mystical surround where no one is present and everyone is present at once. I watch device-faces. They light up with fascination, awe, not too unlike the way mystics describe the experience of engaging the presence of Divinity.  Is the internet a metaphor for supreme presence, a way Godde enlivens this digital age?  God knows our fingertips are all over this process, and you know what unique identifiers fingerprints are!

What is the deep longing that allows teens to sleep with their devices on their pillow? Is this the new Teddy Bear?  And yes, I know how violent cyber-bullying can be, using the same devices for isolating someone as for connecting with them. Using a device with love is a moral responsibility.  

The Internet is not God but I wonder if God’s life-giving presence is realized through the process of connection itself no matter how it is facilitated.  Godde works through whatever is engaging human spirit, no?  A housebound friend of mine once told me, “The Internet saved my life.”  She follows and she clicks and she feels accompanied and alive.

It would be easy to label all this device-intrigue the latest addiction. But that I believe would be cheap. It’s a phenomenon I can resonate with sometimes when I’ve writing or when I sink deep into prayer. I get so drawn into the flow of the words that we kind of merge. I’m me, and not. So who’s here?

The biblical God gave Moses some creds before he headed off to Egypt on a dangerous mission to confront the powers and demand freedom for the Israelites at God’s behest. Whom shall I say sent me?  Moses asked. Godde said:  I AM, Ehyeh..... (sounds like a Mainer ;0)  The elusive Hebrew language is, well, elusive!  But one translation I read has God saying: I AM I AM. 

When we choose life, no matter how difficult, it’s the mystery of pure BEING, I am I am, felt both from within and without, who summons us forth and gives us hope no matter what.

Have I gone too far? Oh, of course. But I wonder.  Is the spirituality of this digital age realizing a presence for its own sake and by its own means?   I don’t know but it surely has many people hooked and exhilarated and fully alive.