Yesterday, I was frantically looking through my newest favorite book, Every Moment Holy, by Douglas McKelvey. Two of my sons were trying to get my computer to interface with the flat screen monitor at the church so I could do a presentation about my trip to Bosnia.
More and more, when young people talk technology around me, it sounds like a foreign language. As in Bosnia, when I used my minimal Croatian to pick out words and phrases that sound semi-familiar, I tried to understand what my sons were talking about as they worked. It turns HTMI doesn’t mean “Hey, Too Much Information” because it’s really HDMI and it’s a cable and it didn’t work for our situation.
When Philip asked me if I had a firestick, all I could think of were matches. I didn’t have any, or a Fire TV Stick for that matter. Karl drove to my brother’s house and borrowed his Google Chromecast doohickey, which would have worked, if I could download the app onto my computer, which I couldn’t, because no one knew the WiFi password at the church. Then, the hotspots that Philip set up on my phone kept failing.
Pastor Tom asked me if I wanted to wait until next week.
“No,” I said, “because some of my children drove down from Syracuse for this.”
The truth is that I didn’t want it lingering in the back of my mind for another week. My poor youngest children had lived with an irritable mom long enough.
I brought Every Moment Holy with me because I planned to close with a prayer from it. It’s a brand new book from Rabbit Room Press, with liturgies for nearly every occasion — for setting up a Christmas tree, for doing laundry, two for changing diapers, for the paying of bills, for stargazing. One hundred liturgies to practice the presence of God in the midst of our daily lives.
Surely I would find a liturgy for those moments when technology fails.
While my sons worked and talked techno-gibberish to each other, I searched the book.
I finally settled on “A Liturgy for a Fleeting Irritation” which mostly fit:
I bring to you Lord, my momentary irritation, that you might reveal the buried seed of it — not in the words or actions of another person [or, I added, in the failure of technology], but in the withered and hypocritical expectations of my own small heart…
I read through it once, twice, thrice, trying to calm my anxious heart, and hoping a miracle would occur.
While I ended up doing the presentation awkwardly holding my laptop so the front row could see the pictures, and though I couldn’t hold the computer and my notes so I did a fair amount of babbling, my words were mostly well-received.
Still, I feel like there’s a need for a liturgy for when technology fails — so I wrote this prayer.
For the next time.
You, who spoke worlds into being
Who, with Your own finger, wrote on tablets of stone
And later wrote lost words in the dirt –
You never required the technology that is so much a part of our lives today.
We carry miniature Towers of Babel in our pockets
And turn to them far more often
Than we turn to You.
Remind us, Lord, that we are made in Your image.
You have equipped us with everything we need
To complete the work You have called us to
Let us acknowledge Your presence in our midst
Even when technology fails
Especially when technology fails.
And help us to BE present to those around us.