Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Little Heavenly Quiet

Each of us likely has stories to tell about how the Internet and other technologies have enhanced our lives. The Internet alone has been a welcome advance in our household. For starters, it was through the Internet that I learned that my best chance of surviving ovarian cancer was to seek medical care from a gynecologic oncologist. For that knowledge, I will always be grateful.

I find that the Internet enhances my life in other ways as well. Among them, my children and I have some great times together researching a variety of subjects on the Web, everything from the life and times of Elizabeth I to the Puffin colonies in the North Sea; I enjoy listening to podcasts and music (via; and I love staying in touch with friends, family, authors, and readers like you.

With all of this said, I sometimes feel concerned that if I'm not careful, I may allow technology (including the Internet, cell phones, mp-3 players, etc.)to deprive me of having real and meaningful relationships, including relationships with the people I love most. Do you ever find yourself thinking similar thoughts?

Given these feelings, you can probably imagine the intrigue I felt when I ran across an article in the November 2, 2009 issue of Newsweek entitled "The Devil Loves Cell Phones." In the article, author Julia Baird writes that "In the Middle Ages, Christian scholars believed that Satan did not want human beings to be alone with God, or with each other, fully alert and listening." Fast forward hundreds of years and I think there's reason to be concerned that Satan may be using our own technological advances to succeed.

In the same article, Julia Baird quotes author Sara Maitland as saying, "I am convinced that as a whole society we are losing something precious in our increasingly silence-avoiding culture and that somehow, whatever this silence might be, it needs holding, nourishing, and unpacking."

I, for one, have decided that I want to be sure to hold, nourish, and unpack the silence that can be available to us every day if we clear out enough technological clutter to make room for it. I find I'm better at doing this when I begin my days in quiet prayer. Elder David A. Bednar, an apostle in the Mormon church, encourages us to create our days spiritually through prayer before we create them physically through our actions. As I have sought to implement his counsel, I have felt an increasing sense of peace and clarity permeate my days.

When I begin each day with some measure of prayerful contemplation, I find that I am more conscious of sewing pockets of quiet into my family's days as well. When I say "quiet," I am talking about a silencing of the cell phones, the Internet, the television, and so on so that we can have some real time as a family to connect with each other. The more my husband and I seek to create these pockets of quiet in which to nurture our family, the more we feel a sense of family and find ourselves sharing experiences we will cherish and remember for years to come.

Let me assure you that as I write this, I am still working to find the balance that works best for my family and me. How much technology do I allow into my daily life? This is the question that I will be exploring for some time to come.

I confess that sometimes more technology sneaks into my life than I had originally intended. For example, I tell myself when jumping on the Internet, "I just want to look up one thing" and then before I know it, I've checked the weather, responded to e-mails, read a few compelling news articles and so on, until 30 minutes have passed when I had intended only two.

When I'm tempted to jump on the Internet for something that is not urgent, I recall my friend Victoria's example. She strives to not get on the Internet more than once in a day, usually in the evening after she's accomplished the other things she wanted and needed to do that day. This helps her to stay focused on the things that are most important to her during the day while allowing for Internet time to serve as a reward in the evening. If she thinks of something during the day that she wants to do on the Internet but does not need to do right away, she jots a reminder on a pad of paper and saves it until her "planned Internet time" in the evening. This is a clever strategy that works well for her and can serve as an inspiration for the rest of us.

I firmly believe that technology can be a wonderful blessing in our lives. We just need to be conscious of what part we are allowing it to play in our lives now and then thoughtful about how we will proceed from here. With this said, I have enjoyed connecting with you through this blog post, but I think I'll sign off for now and go spend some time with my family. Take care. I hope you'll make room for a little heavenly quiet in the days to come.

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