I occasionally have these “epiphanies” out of which a ray of insight shines. They happen all-of-a-sudden, triggered by some present-moment event which, as spiritual writer Bernadette Roberts observes, is always created by some perspective created by a distance with something in the past.
I was playing a job downtown to a huge crowd. It was outdoors on public square. Drums were provided by the sponsors, so, In order to minimize any further logistical confusion from the throngs of people, I decided to travel on the rapid transit train. My “epiphany” occurred on the train coming back home during rush-hour. I sat next to a young commuter on his way home from work. He had a laptop computer open on his lap, an MP3 player wired directly to his ears, and a cellular phone in one hand. The fellow across the aisle also had a cell phone in his hand. During a ride of about 25 minutes the guy next to me made three calls on his phone and the guy across from me made two. This made me remember how often I’ve seen automobile drivers talking on a cell phone in about one out of every three or four cars; and furthermore, how many times I’ve seen people walking down the street talking on their cell phones.
Then it hit me! There is a great compulsion, apparently, in people of this hectic age, to seek “connection.” Anything that facilitates our connection with others is pursued and obtained without much regard for cost. With some reflection, it struck me that this urge to be connected has significant spiritual roots. We struggle mightily to seek to be connected with God. We go to great lengths to obtain whatever means facilitates our quest for connection. We need God – and we need others.
Psychologically one might deduce that our great need for connection in our times stems, seminally, from our great (though often suppressed) need for connection with God. Personally I’m not very big on cell phones, though I do keep one in the car for emergencies. I am not even very big on talking on the regular telephone. I’m not good at it. I never know what to say. Therefore I might be said to be somewhat aloof to maintaining connections with others – at least telephonically. But connection with God precedes the connection with others – and I don’t need a phone for that!