At the end of last week, I said that I was adding what would probably be the last post in the What is a Spiritual Practice series. However, I continue to receive posts and will continue to add new ones that I receive.
Today’s post cones from Lynne Baab. Lynne has written several books on spiritual disciplines, including Sabbath Keeping and Fasting, and lots of articles that are posted on her website. Her most recent book, Reaching Out in A Networked World, considers the ways congregations can express their identity and values in an online world. She is a Presbyterian minister with a PhD in communication, and currently teaches pastoral theology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Because I spend so much time in front of a computer, I’ve tried to develop a series of small spiritual practices that remind me of God’s guidance and presence with me as I sit in front of the screen. While my computer boots up, I try to look out the window at the trees and sky while I take a few deep breaths, reminding me of the Holy Spirit around me and in me. I use passwords that help me remember God’s work in my life. When software or websites load in slowly, I try to look out the window again and rejoice in the beauty of the trees God made. The passwords and the pauses to look out the window break up my work day and help me to take a moment to practice mindfulness, the awareness that this moment matters because God made it and Jesus is here with me.
Because I live so far away from friends and family, Facebook and email are major ways I learn about what’s happening in the lives of people I love. So I try to pray for people as I read what they’ve written online. I know there are a lot of people who think that online relationships aren’t “real,” but because I live 7,000 miles from many of the people I love, I am deeply grateful for online ways of staying connected, and I try to rejoice in those connections and in the people who have loved me and continue to support me across the miles.
Somehow it’s too easy to think that God is present in nature but not in technology. Or that God wants us to be caring and prayerful when we talk to someone face to face, but not when we communicate with them online. My small computer habits remind me that all of life, and my whole life, belong to God.