I have a crackberry mobile computing device. I just received a text message, and have been checking my e-mail all day. I downloaded directions to someone's house, and looked up the definition of a word before updating my twitter status. I keep phone numbers and addresses, plus lists of things I need to remember (groceries). I even, from time to time, use the thing to talk to people.
It's pretty rare that I don't have my crackberry with me, either in my pocket or on the dashboard of the car, on the counter or in my bag. I don't take it with me when I go running or to the gym, and I only take it on bike rides if I'll be gone for three hours or more ~ but besides that, it's almost always available to me ... which means that I'm almost always available to you (or whomever).
Besides the crackberry, I also use a laptop computer, which I carry most places I go. I didn't take it when I went to dinner with the kids tonight, but it goes with me to and from the office almost every day. As I write this, I'm sitting in my living room, on the couch, with the laptop on (of all places) my lap. With a laptop and a cell phone, I could work almost anywhere. In a couple weeks, I'll be on a trip for work. I'll be able to check e-mail and make phone calls, work on lesson plans and a sermon, connect with folks about vacation bible school and touch base with someone whose wife is in the hospital the whole time I'm there.
And I'm not alone in this. I see lots of people around the city working from wherever they are, at all hours of the day and night. It seems like since we have the capability to work all the time, we feel like we are required to work all the time. In fact, I think it goes beyond feeling like we're required to work all the time. I believe that we've tied busy-ness together with worth. The more I work, the better I am. And it's been taken to an unfortunate extreme, which is 'the more hectic and stressed and overextended I am, the more I'm worth and the better I am. It becomes a contest to see who's the busiest.
And we've forgotten Sabbath.
We've forgotten Sabbath, we've forgotten how to Sabbath (yes, I just verbized that word), we've forgotten even what Sabbath is.
I have a vague memory from when I was young of learning that Sabbath is the time when we rest from our labors. Hearing that, I assumed that the point of Sabbath is to rest and recover in order that we're ready to continue our labors when it's time to do so. The trouble, though, is that if rest and recovery is the point of Sabbath, then Sabbath is still about work.
Instead, what if we worked to recover the essence of Sabbath, which is to remind ourselves that the world will continue just fine even without our input. If we put down our phones, closed the laptops, didn't bother composing 140 character updates, things would still be OK. And if we did those things, maybe we could take that opportunity to really see each other, without all the distractions. Maybe we could read a book, or write a book; create art or make music with friends; enjoy the company of children, or anything else that connects us with the life-giving heart of G-d.
And maybe that one day of recognizing that there's someone else who is actually in charge of the universe (despite our actions and apparent presuppositions) would spill over into humility in the other days as we go about our business (busy-ness).
The issue of how to get there is for another post.