Veteran PC users know the drill, especially, if like me, they live in the Windows computer universe. I’m hard at work on a document or spreadsheet or surfing the net and suddenly the screen freezes up. Nothing responds, even as I tap at the keyboard in frustration and panic. The dreaded “turning circle” icon pops up. A “not responding” message appears. The computer is hung up, caught in an endless loop.
I can’t go back. Can’t go forward. Can’t save my work. Can’t do anything. I’m stuck in digital purgatory, suspended between the hell of losing all my data and the heaven of full recovery and so, there is finally only one thing I can do.
Shut down the whole system. Begin again. Strike three keys simultaneously (Ctrl, Alt and Delete), or click “Restart”, for cyber resurrection. The screen goes blank, the system whirs and then miraculously, the Windows icon reappears. Life recommences.
“THANK YOU JESUS!” OK: that’s my personal exclamation when I’m saved from a computer crash. Reboot is my “go to” hack for any electronic problem. Turn it off. Turn it on. Say a little prayer too.
If only we could reboot our world. Wouldn’t that be awesome? At times of massive stimulation overload, we could just shut the whole world down, turn it off, hit a switch, strike ctrl/alt/delete and begin again. For sometimes in the machine called humanity: we go on overload too. We have much too much information coming in that doesn’t compute. The circuits of our brains and hearts and souls are flooded to overcapacity.
That’s how I’m feeling more than a week after Orlando. In a week when we marked the one year anniversary of the Charleston church shooting. In a week when the life of a young person gunned down in the halls of a Boston high school was remembered too. I just want to turn the whole world off and reboot. Return to a “before” time, before all those innocent lives were lost to hatred and chaos. Before far too many of our so called “leaders” responded in typical fashion to the next cataclysmic event. Not with wisdom or action, but instead with blustering judgments or perpetual inaction.
I want to shut down the unrelenting 24/7 news cycles that overwhelms most of us with far too much information and far too little understanding. I want to shut down the social media orgy that can bring far too much heat and far too little light, into our collective efforts to build community. I want to shut down the folks who are absolutely, completely convinced, that they alone are right. I don’t care about their political leanings or religious faith. Right now, we’ve got too much self righteousness and too little humility in our national dialogue. I want to shut down the volume of our culture. Hit the mute button, until the day when we finally learn how to talk with each other and not merely at each other.
I even imagine God in the heavens, sitting before a computer called Creation. I wonder if God is tempted to hit the “reboot” button too. To ask, “What is it about ‘love one another’ that my children just do not seem to understand?”
My prayer for all of us in these overloaded days, when it feels as if our communal computer may be about to crash, is that each of us has a place to spiritually reboot ourselves. At its best this is what faith in God is all about. Rebooting regularly. Being together. Loving each other. Loving “the other”. Loving God. Loving the world, even in all its brokenness. Last Sunday I was so grateful to return to my faith community: to talk together, pray together, worry together, be together, and act for the good, together. We’re far from perfect. But God knows we are trying.
How about you? Do you have such a sanctuary, or a tradition, or some beloved community to return to for a reboot? I really, really, really hope so. If the past days have taught us anything, it is that we all need each other, maybe now more than ever.
God help us all…to reboot.