I recently got an iPhone, and in that past two weeks I’ve had it, I’ve wondered how I’ve lived this long without it. The phone truly has changed my life in many small but significant ways, and has reconnected me to parts of myself that I thought had been lost. For example . . .
I used to be an avid photographer. I loved taking pictures of landscapes, closeups of flowers, portraits of beautiful people, and anything interesting. I especially loved capturing the memories of my experiences so I could remember and relive them. And somehow in the process of dating and marriage, I lost that part of myself. But now with my ever-present phone, I’m taking pictures every time I turn around. I’m documenting the foliage in my garden and the everyday antics of my children. I’m making memories for my family. Thank you, Apple.
I’m doing a better job of managing my time and commitments. I’m using the calendar on a daily basis, and whenever I think of one of those “to-dos” I’ve been procrastinating about, I put it on my reminder list and sent an alarm about it every couple of days (and I don’t resent it the way I might resent my mom for giving me the same reminder!). I’m more available to my clients, and when things go wrong – like the bulletin not being live on the St. Michael website Saturday evening – I could take care of the issue from my phone, even though I was a hundred miles away from my computer, in the middle of a public restroom in Norfolk.
I’m spending less time on Facebook. I know that seems hard to believe, because I’m still quite visible there, posting all these new photos I’m taking. But I’m not spending hours sitting in front of my computer to do it. Instead, I’m listening to music on my portable pocket radio while I’m cooking or tidying up the house or folding laundry or putting myself to bed early.
This weekend I planned to travel in the big blue minivan down to Norfolk, Virginia for OpSail 2012 and the Norfolk Harborfest. It’s like a street fair with tallships docked in the harbor and open for tours, plus folks in 18th century period costume doing living history. I love that kind of stuff, and so do my parents, so we thought it would be a great thing to experience with Teague, Tori and Olivia. In preparation for the trip, I downloaded an app for my phone that gives real time reports on traffic conditions on a little map of whatever route you’re on. You can see what’s up on the road ahead (including police cars waiting in the bushes to get speeders!) based on what other drivers ahead of you have reported. So when we hit a standstill at Williamsburg and my dad started grumbling and cursing under his breath about the tunnel being backed up for the entire length of the trip, I pulled up the app and assured him that there was an accident up ahead and that aside from a few other small slowdowns, the way was clear and the traffic through the tunnel was moving. The tension in the car dissipated (for me, anyway) just knowing what to expect.
Wouldn’t it be great if God could give me a blow by blow about what’s coming up? The traffic jams in life wouldn’t be nearly so bad if I had a God who would tell me exactly how long they would last. I’d never experience the pain of mistakes if God would tell me where the speed traps are. I don’t even need an app, maybe just a handbook entitled, “What To Expect When You’re a Single Mom of Three Young Children Working Two Jobs.”
I found myself wishing I could have “an app for that” in my life journey, and thinking perhaps one day that might be a good topic for one of my little reflections. Little did I know that today’s Gospel reading for Corpus Christi Sunday – the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – would give me just such an opportunity.
Today’s selection from the Gospel of Mark demonstrates to me that perhaps my wishful thinking isn’t so far off. Upon arriving in the big city of Jerusalem at Passover time (think New York City on New Year’s Eve), the overwhelmed country-bumpkin disciples asked Jesus where they were going to have the Passover meal. One can only imagine their anxiety, because the Passover was the most important ritual in Jewish culture, and to NOT celebrate the Passover was unthinkable. Jesus calmly gave them step by step instructions and landmarks to look for as they sought the place He knew was waiting for them: “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water.
Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” This wasn’t the first time Jesus had given the disciples a blow by blow of what to expect; He did the same thing when they were entering Jerusalem and He told them how to find the colt for Him to ride into the city. And He did it later that Thursday evening when He foretold His betrayal and told Peter he’d deny Him three times.
This is a reminder to me that my God is a God who does provide a road map for me – the scriptures. Now, I’m not one who interprets all scripture literally, and I don’t believe it is appropriate to use the Bible to predict the future or to explain the past. We have lots of other tools at our disposal to make the best decisions we can, including history and science, and often these tools conflict with a literal interpretation of scripture, and I’m comfortable with that. For me, the Bible is my tool for understanding my spiritual journey, not proving or disproving the existence of global warming or the theory of evolution. The stories of the Old Testament have similar themes – God’s love for man, man’s desire to be like God, the downfall of the prideful and the rise of the humble. Stories of Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, and the prophets are not just stories from Biblical history; they are my story. I’m living their stories, and when I do what they do, I get what they got, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
This is why it is so important for me to know my Bible stories. It’s not about memorizing scripture verses or being able to use the holy Word as a weapon in a theological battle with one of my many brilliant atheist or fundamentalist friends. It’s about “having an app” for my own life’s journey so that I can recognize the speed traps before I hit them and adjust my attitude. It’s so I can know deep within that my final destination is waiting for me and that the road to get there will have traffic jams and accidents and detours and backups in long, dark tunnels. They will pass, and there’s no reason for anxiety, doom or gloom. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and drive according to the conditions in front of me. I’ll get there when I get there.