Fr Ronald Rolheiser writes about our addiction to being digitally connected:
And so we are, daily, becoming more enslaved to and more compulsive in our use of mobile phones and the Internet. For many of us it is now existentially impossible to take off a day, let alone several weeks, and be on a genuine holiday. Rather, the pressure is on us to constantly check for texts, e-mails, phone messages and the like. The expectation from our families, friends, and colleagues is precisely that we are checking these regularly. The sin du jour is to be, at any time, unavailable, unreachable or non-communicative.
He quotes some friends who work in Christian ministry on Sunday mornings, but then begin to celebrate their own digital sabbath in the late afternoon on Sunday:
We start our celebration of the Sabbath at 4 PM on Sunday and we begin it symbolically by unplugging our computers, turning of our mobile phones, disconnecting our hour phone and turning off every information gadget that we own. For the next 29 hours we don’t receive any calls and we don’t make any. We are on a cyber-fast, non-contactable, of the wheel, unavailable.
At 9 PM on Monday night we end our Sabbath as we began it, symbolically. We break our cyber-fast and fire up again our phones and our computers and begin answering our messages. We get back on the wheel for another week.
Sometimes making ourselves unavailable like this irritates our families and friends, but if we are to celebrate Sabbath, given our pressured lives, this pulling away is the most important single thing that we have to do.
He ends the article with this wonderful quotation from the mystic poet Rumi:
I have lived too long where I can be reached!
[The Catholic Herald, 18 Feb, p 20]