My cell phone contract ran out three months ago and I still haven’t decided what to do. Should I renew the contract, getting some small bonus from the company for doing so? Should I get a new slightly fancier — and thus more fun — model, even though it means signing up for two more years? Should I really throw caution to the winds, join the 21st century and get a fancy schmancy model even though it means a bigger monthly payment?
I have spent way too much time thinking about it, quizzing my friends about their preferences and checking out different web sites. It is, after all, only a tool — one that I hope will make my life better, but still, just a tool. Not only that, it is a tool that takes some maintenance — it won’t keep working unless I make sure it is recharged on a regular basis.
As I fretted over these considerations, I realized that a cell phone could be a metaphor for how I am approaching my own spiritual/emotional well being. Does it really work to do the same things I’ve always done or should I explore more of the options that are out there? Just as I like my very simple cell phone, I like the things I know, the practices that are familiar. It is not clear what will be gained by switching.
On the other hand — unlike with the phone company where I get locked in for two years, maybe now is the time tentatively to try out something new. I can, after all, go back to what is familiar if it doesn’t work.
With the phone there is that lurking question of ‘How fancy should I go?’ When others quickly and happily tell me the price of apples in 1933 (10 cents for three pounds) or who won the 1957 World Series (the Milwaukee Braves — but I actually knew that), I wonder if I am ready to pay more and get more.
With my spiritual life, I do see others who seem more connected to what is meaningful in life and I know they take time for a variety of spiritual practices. Am I ready to take more time to get more?
I am most like the phone, however, when I remember how very dead — as in, it just doesn’t work — it gets when it’s not plugged into a source of power from time to time. Whatever I decide about the details for my spiritual development, I need to be connected on a regular basis to a source of power or I will not work well either. I wouldn’t think of expecting my cell phone to work without frequent recharging; why should I think that I can function any better?
The Rev. Linda Gesling is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Stillwater.