“My name has been called for jury duty.”
“That piece of cheesecake has my name on it.”
“I swear on my name, I will poke you in the eye!”
“I want to make a name for myself.”
“His name is mud.”
What calls your name? Like many, many people on the planet, in recent years I have found myself increasingly called by the lure of technology, Wi-Fi, and my numerous devices. At the same time, I theoretically understand the importance of moderation, so when I went camping last summer, I decided to have a no-mobile-phone rule, and it started off really well…for the first camping weekend at least. By the second camping weekend, I decided it would be okay to use the phone only to listen to music, which of course was the expressway I needed. Before long, it became critically important for me to check the weather, the news, play Candy Crush, lurk through Reddit, and of course, scroll through Facebook. What photos of my camping trip could I orchestrate and then post so that everyone on my friend list and Instagram feed would know that I was taking a technology-free weekend away with God?
Even as I sit at my computer writing these words with a deadline looming, I found myself side-tracked into reading an article on Facebook entitled “Cows Just Want to be Loved,” about how and why cows like to cuddle. Cows. I do not even know how that happened. Yet, even amid a social media obsession, I long to pull away from it. That first camping weekend without my cell phone? Even though I felt disconnected, I loved it because at the same time I was more attentive to the other things that called my name. Campfire. Beach. Riding my bike. Night sky-gazing. Watching chipmunks obsess over whatever it is chipmunks obsess over. I was disconnected from the technology but re-connected with creation, and it was an awesome thing. This past November, a group of young adults gathered in the Mill Creek woods in Riverview for a Theology on Tap where we talked about the practice of “forest bathing,” which has become a cornerstone in Japanese health care. No hiking, no Fitbits, just sitting with the trees, in the presence of God. It was a beautiful time of silence, reflection, and sharing in nature. We did use our mobile phones to take photos of “god-sightings,” but that was our only use for them.
While social media calls to my ego, nature calls out my true name, my soul. One provides ephemeral satisfaction (although I often wonder about the validity of this), while the other a more deeply-anchored connection with our creator. It is not terribly difficult to differentiate between the two, but that does not mean I always catch my ego before it whisks me off into the Neverland of Animals Dressed Like People, or videos of frolicking goats on trampolines.
Trevor Droesbeck Office of Youth Faith Development