When I read Wheat’s article, I found myself nodding along. I’m certainly one who enjoys being plugged in at all times. Whenever I’m working at my office, I have my RSS feed open behind whatever document I’m reading or drafting. It’s uncommon if I can go ten minutes without clicking from my work window to the internet window. I still get my work done, and, honestly, when you’re slogging through case after case about violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or whatever, well, you need a break to splash some cold water on your brain from time to time.

So, are we wrong? Well, we may not be wrong, but I think we do lose something when we live so disconnectedly. I recently read a post discussing how we* are losing the capacity for deep thought and contemplation because we are constantly flitting from one thing to the next. I think there is something to this. It’s hard to remember the last time I totally immersed myself in something. I do still reflect on things after the fact, ruminate on them, make connections, and try to see what’s going on beneath the surface. But I rarely give my total concentration to what I’m doing in the moment. I can’t but believe that I’m missing something because of this.

*We being society. Not the three of us in this blog. That would have been a little strange.

Wheat’s post also made me think of the idea of presence in Scripture. The Temple carried such great symbolic weight for the Jews, in part, because it represented God’s presence, His shekinah, with his chosen people. God manifested His presence through the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud, and His presence rested in the Temple when Solomon dedicated it. And, of course, inside the Temple was the showbread, the bread of the presence (or, literally, the bread of the face). Through these symbols, it seems, God was telling his people that, yes, He really did choose Israel as his people and had turned His face toward them.

All of these symbols set the stage for the coming of Christ, through whom God was uniquely present with His people as never before. Jesus even used the symbol of the showbread when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, declaring the bread to be His body, instructing his disciples to remember Him when they ate it, to remember the one who promised to be with them, to be present, always.

What is the implication for us? I believe God’s people are called to be present before Him, body and soul. As the twelve loaves of the showbread sit before the Ark, so are the twelve tribes of God’s people to come before their God. When we come to worship Him, we come setting aside time to be with Him – time apart from the world of work and play and texts and emails. We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I think a part of this is coming before Him with undivided attention; to be truly present before him.

Likewise, in our relationships with one another, I think a sign of love is to give someone your undivided attention. Again, to be truly present with them. Do we truly listen in a conversation, or are we just waiting until our turn to speak and thinking of what we will say next? Mrs. Water and I have a favorite pastime of sitting next to one another, both of us doing something on our laptops, while the tv is playing something. Occasionally, one of us will reach over and pat the other’s leg. And it’s fine, most of the time. We’re happy. But are we really present with one another? Are we showing each other love?

What were we talking about? I guess I would say that being as connected as we are is, in and of itself, neither good nor evil. The internet is probably the most powerful thing in the world at the moment, and people have used it both for incredible good and incredible evil. As always with powerful things, we have the choice and responsibility to decide how we will use it. But, I do think that never unplugging from the matrix and never truly being present in the moment is bad, and we lose a great deal if we only live our lives skimming from surface to surface and never diving in deeper.