“We have everyday habits – formative practices – that constitute daily liturgies. By reaching for my smartphone every morning, I had developed a ritual that trained me toward a certain end: entertainment and stimulation via technology. Regardless of my professed worldview or particular Christian subculture, my unexamined daily habit was shaping me into a worshiper of glowing screens.” ~ Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary.
Every chapter of this book spoke to me. But this one, titled “Making the Bed”, shouted louder than the rest. These quoted words are me. Each night, before I sink into my pillow (and sometimes even after), my last activity is a screen check. Maybe the weather forecast for the morrow, perhaps one final perusal of instagram, but a final viewing feels necessary. And when I rise, before I lift my head, I pick up my phone, dim the brightness and silently take in the usual information. Facebook, emails, notifications. And it’s not even 7am.
Warren likens this morning ritual to a baby animal in the wild rescued by humans. The human is accepted as the animal’s mother, and it can no longer live on its own, believing all good things come from people. This is a phenomenon known as imprinting, and my morning routine, like Warren’s, was imprinted by technology. I looked for all good things to come from a glowing screen.
As part of my journey towards understanding the liturgical practices, and at this time of year in particular, the season of Lent, I have decided to make a change in my daily habit; giving up my morning and evening screen rituals and replacing them with something better. I purchased a traditional alarm clock and the phone now charges in the living room. As I emerge from sleep and grope towards consciousness, replete with bad breath and messy hair, I greet the morning slowly, for now with stretches and silence, but perhaps soon with more. A new imprint – an invitation for God to be present in my day; a quiet conversation with Him.