During a recent visit Mr Willmott introduced me to the song ‘The Best of Times’ by Sage Francis. It’s a great tune with a lot of thought provoking lyrics. The ones that stand out most at the moment though are below:
Conveniently religious, on Easter Sunday and on Christmas, the television went from being our baby-sitter to a mistress, technology made it easy for us to stay in touch while keeping our distance. Til we just stayed distant and never touched, now all we do is text too much.
We all know the cliches about how we are more connected to each other than ever but somehow more lonely and I’m not going to re-cover that ground. Instead I have been thinking about how this state of affairs has affected our relationship with God. I think I have a ‘text’ relationship with God. But only the bad side of texting.
Texting is great. You don’t have to see the other person, to breathe in their own particular brand of odour, to feel pressured to stretch out the conversation and take interest in the other person for longer than you had actually planned to. You can ignore a text, pretend you didn’t get it, or were ‘too busy’ to reply (because crafting a text takes soooo long), you can keep it on your phone while you decide how to reply, if indeed you ever do reply. You can send something in anger and later claim that the other person ‘just read it that way’. And if you do want to send an angry, hurtful text, you don’t have to put up with the other person’s weeping. You can end the text with a ‘x’, which is a kiss (apparently), or a ‘o’ which is a hug. Texting is great.
Praying is hard work. You don’t see the other person, and sometimes you are not even sure how well you know Him. You feel pressured to stretch out your prayers because the word on the street is that every other Christian prays for at least an hour longer than you do. You forget that prayer etiquette states that you should not start with a list of personal requests. You can’t shout, because it’s a bit ungrateful – after all God gave you everything, so instead you seethe polite words hiding your true feelings. Then you remember how prayer is also about listening, so you sit in silence to listen and you hear… you hear the fan of your computer, water flowing through the pipes of your house, cars on the road outside, the cacophony of wonderful sounds your body makes. So instead of listening you remember all the jobs you need to do and that you need to text someone, and instead of listening, craft that text mentally first, but then go and type it out, just so you don’t forget. You end a prayer with ‘Amen’. I have been told it means ‘I agree’ which is odd when you are alone. Praying is hard work.
And so I text God my prayers. Type and send, no further thought. And I miss out.