I often blog about needing to choose what to watch on TV rather than just wasting hours away channel hopping. Without a tele at Uni I feel freed from this temptation but web browsing can be just as much of a mindnumbing waste of time. And then came along the great invention of BBC iPlayer.
I'm back home again now and the potential to plug myself into a virtual world of moving images is once again at my fingertips. But why would that be a bad thing?
I recently read a post on Phil Togwell's blog, which presented some thoughts on this. He'd been to visit some monks and while the thought of so much silence terrifies me, the monks explanation for his lifestyle really challenged me.
I've pinched the following paragraphs cos I thought it was so good:
The word obedience comes from Latin terms meaning 'to listen'. Obedience comes from listening... and it is this desire to listen (or to *learn* to listen, since so few of us are any good at listening) that shapes the monk's lives of silence.
The monks aren't entirely silent (as Brother Thierry was demonstrating by speaking with us), but silence is their default. Whereas noise is probably our default. We're surrounded by the noise of machines and vehicles and people and busyness all the time... and then we fill any remaining cracks with music on iPods, on the radio, with shallow chattering (Benedict warns against "unnecessary" conversation) and with the (mostly rubbish) TV as soon as we sit down in the evenings.
And why do we do it? "Because," said Brother Thierry, "we are afraid to be alone with ourselves." In silence we encounter ourselves, including the stuff that we'd rather keep hidden away... the head-noise, the loneliness, the pain, the guilt, the fear, the honest cries of our hearts. The real us.