Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Today, Moses Would Have Missed It

Sad to say, I suspect that if Moses were a young man today, he'd probably miss the burning bush. Not, of course, because of any lack of effort on God's part. But with so many distractions today, it's awfully difficult to be attentive to our surroundings. People walk about the streets with eyes fixed upon hand-held screens and tune out ambient noises as they tune in personalized music. Indeed, it'd be my wager that college campuses - at least during the day - have become quieter over the years: students are so plugged into their own private worlds that there is an ever-decreasing need to engage in random interactions. Why stop to chat when you can just send a text?

I can imagine Moses walking the streets today, so enraptured by the latest Tweet or Facebook message that he'd completely miss what was going on around him. Modern technology would allow him to have his world...even if this convenience comes at the expense of increasingly divorcing him from the world he shared with others. A burning bush might occasion a raised eyebrow or quizzical look, but the latest piece of celebrity gossip would quickly draw his attention away. If he did stop to puzzle over the sight, would he really allow himself to feel astonished or would he take a selfie with it or try to find its likeness on Wikipedia?

Now, make no mistake: I don't have any nostalgia for a "simpler time" before modern technology. It'd be hypocritical for me to do so, as I'm writing in a coffee shop on Mackinac Island using WiFi and a laptop! But I cannot help but wonder if a consequence of the proliferation of technology isn't that we are buffered apart not only from one another but from our world at large.

We don't need to jettison our devices, but we do need to discern more effective strategies for their use. Do we use them to explore and discover or to insulate and evade? As Moses daydreamed and pondered the flock he tended, he took the time to gaze upon a burning bush -- certainly not an uncommon sight in the desert -- and had to marvel that it was not reduced to ash. His wonder at this observed fact impelled him to gaze further, to watch, and to experience with amazement an unexpected call that opened for him and his people an entirely new history.

Perhaps today the Angel's call would not be "take off your shoes." Instead, it would be "take off your headphones for you are surrounded by holy sound." For those looking for a challenge, perhaps we could try leaving our devices at home today or keeping silent our radios. Listen instead to the music of the world around us and allow it to speak to us, within us, and perhaps we can begin to discern a long-muted call of the Holy One who continues to appear to those attentive to it.

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