Thursday, January 3, 2013

By the Light of the Phone in the Morning

(This was a meditation I drafted for an online publication that I decided not to send in)

Those first five minutes of the day command a lot of power over the rest of the day. When I wake up, the first thing my technology-focused brain will do is reach for my cell phone. My thumb flies to the email button, and my eye runs down the list of new mail with just a touch of anxiety.

Some of the new emails are good; I get a daily email from the Society of St John the Evangelist (an order of monks in the Episcopal Church) with a thoughtful meditation.

Some of the new emails are not-quite-so-good. Retailers are always present to encourage me to buy another thing I probably don’t need.

But my eye always scans for the unfamiliar email, the one I wasn’t planning on receiving. Why? It might just be good news from a friend! But it might be an email with bad news, with a reprimand for something I failed to do, or with some other text that might just start my day with a bit of anxiety.

That warm glow of my phone sure has a lot of impact in the morning. From bed to breakfast table, the light that seems to influence my day the most is not the Sun risen in the sky or the Son shining in my heart but rather the familiar glow of an ever-present phone.

Why does the phone have such power in the morning? Because for some hours I stepped away from our world and went to a world of dreams, leaving my deeds done and undone.

Each day might be a “fresh new day” in some ways, but it always contains the fruit of the days before. What I did yesterday will be reflected in what happens today, and that can be scary. I can never “start over” as if the day before never happened; what I said, what I did will continue on.

Instead of being cause for anxiety, though, that can be an invitation to honesty and truth. Honesty and truth with others, but, most of all, honesty and truth with myself.

Looking back, I can see what I did that has made me the person I am this morning and I can decide whether that is the person I want to be. I can be honest with myself in that warm glow of my phone.

Am I living out the values of love, honesty and generosity that God asks me to embody? Am I taking the risk in sharing myself with others and being open about who I am, what my needs are, and what flaws or difficulties I am struggling with in my journey to be the person God calls me to be? Am I loving God? Am I loving my neighbor, my friend, my enemy? Am I loving myself?

I am not perfect; my phone reminds me of that as it reminds me of my projects left undone and all the other ways I haven‘t lived up to my call of discipleship. Neither is the world perfect; my daily news alert reminds me of the turmoil and pain in the world.

But I can be honest. I can admit my mistakes, certainly, but I can also admit that I am a child of God. Me! A child of God! Me, a heavy-set gay man in his mid twenties, a child of God! Me, a guy who finally embraced my sexuality just eight years ago and embarked on a journey of  heartache, personal growth and much deeper love.

By becoming more and more honest with myself, all those parts come together more and more. The good, the not-so-good, the stuff-waiting-to-be-transformed. All wrapped up in an untidy package with a humble yet beautiful tag: A Child of God.

In those first five minutes, honesty can guide the rest of the day. One of the most startlingly true statements is that all are loved by God. It can be hard to believe that statement, but it is one of the truest statements that can be made.

If I may be so bold to be so direct, YOU are loved by God. YOU, the one reading this on the glow of a computer screen or the pale light of your phone in your hand. Loved as you are now, and  loved as you will yet become as you are led by God’s grace to even greater heights of joy and love.

Be honest, be yourself, be the Child of God that you are now and are called to be. It calls for just a little bravery and boldness, but smile at the face lit by the glow of this very screen, especially if it is the first five minutes of a new day.

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