by Mark Sargent
Light is often a metaphor for beauty—for wisdom, insight, truth. But all of us have times when we have too much light. To be honest, it is hard to sort out the constant flood of light from my computer screen from the metaphorical sense of “too much light” in our lives. In many ways, with the Internet and satellite television—along with the explosion of knowledge in a global society—we can be engulfed by data, by images, by words. All that information—and the technologies that carry it—will only expand exponentially. Much of this is wonderful: greater access to information, greater light on injustice, quicker connections with the people we love. But I’m not sure we are prepared, physically and spiritually, to find a balance between the constant radiation of information and the restorative darkness of rest and renewal.
When doing a little research for the Provost’s Film Series, I can easily get lured into the rabbit hole of blogs people write in response to film reviews—some perhaps written in the middle of a sleepless night. Blogging (on films, politics, etc.) can be an expression of democracy but also an endless diet of intellectual fast food. We can neglect the richness of well-crafted, prudent, well-researched, elegant writing and settle instead for information that is simply accessible, convenient and provocative. We do need the spiritual discipline not to lose ourselves simply in what is convenient and neglect that which is substantial.
I wonder what Jesus would have done if he had come to live among us in the time of Facebook. How would he have managed all the people who would have asked Him to be their friend? But even though there was no Internet in first-century Palestine, there were constant pressures on Jesus: people who pressed around Him to touch Him, to brush against His robes, to hear Him speak. Yet the Gospels tell us Jesus would, on occasion, go away to be alone, to pray, to renew His spirit. As you may recall, he was even asleep when His boat was tossed by the storm.
I take heart in this: that the Savior of our world often sought out some silence, sleep and restorative darkness. That he promised comfort and rest, not just labor. My hope and prayer is that we would learn to be careful about overindulging in that which is diverting, spontaneous and simply convenient, and spare more of our minds for what is carefully, beautifully well-crafted and wise. That we would give each other greater gifts of time and space, being careful about the ways we fill one another’s lives with obligations and demands for attention and response. That we would find times of restoration—sleep, of course, but also the early morning walks, times for prayer, reflection, silence and solitude.
And perhaps most of all, I pray we will discover how to find balance between compassion and care. Between patience and purpose. That we will learn the difference between hastily rushing into every cause that may diffuse our effectiveness, and the
need to prepare ourselves for the times when God will provide opportunities to be busy but to make a profound difference.