"Don't you like to be connected?" a friend of mine asked. We were discussing the relative merits of new electronic media, including social-networking websites and other Internet-based services, and how they're changing the way we get and share news.
"Of course I do," I replied. But I also told her I find that the barrage of instantly available information, much of it inane, threatens to divert my attention from what I need most – time to think deeply so that I'm ready to respond with healing ideas when others call on me to pray for them.
Don't get me wrong. I'm neither a recluse nor a Luddite. I enjoy using the tools provided by new technologies and media. They help keep me informed and responsive to the needs of others around the world. They allow me to be in touch with those who might not otherwise reach me. And they even make this newspaper accessible in new and convenient ways.
Yet all this "connectedness" can come at a price. Many adults and children struggle with an incessant pull – obsession, if you will – to be always online or in constant electronic contact with others. While this may make them feel more connected, other important activities can get pushed aside or neglected. Attention spans, productivity, and even normal face-to-face communications can suffer.
And the consequences can be even more serious. Just recently, a Boston subway train driver ran through a red light while text-messaging his girlfriend, and crashed his train into the one ahead of him. The collision injured the driver and dozens of passengers, and caused millions of dollars in damage.
After my friend and I parted, I couldn't stop thinking about our conversation. How can one be connected in new and fresh ways without becoming distracted or drawn away from things that matter most? Then, it hit me: connected to what? To be really connected is to start with the primary and most important relationship of all, the one each of us has with our Creator – divine Spirit, God – as His image and likeness.
Our connection to God is irresistible, yet always benevolent. The Bible describes it this way: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself" (Jer. 31:3, New Living Translation). How comforting it is to know that we are always being drawn lovingly to God, to the ever-presence of Love itself.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy noted, "There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit" (p. 102). It is essential to acknowledge our relationship with God as the only real attraction – to yield to His ever-presence and power. This is prayer. It allows us to feel, more tangibly, the divine impulsion of His unfailing loving presence, which draws us to a better understanding of Him and keeps us, and all of His children, safe.
Our connection with God is not something we have to establish. It is already a fact. Because it is not material but entirely spiritual, it cannot be blocked, destroyed, or severed. God is present with us 24/7. We are never out of range. God's "coverage" is free, infinite, and not dependent on time, geography, Wi-Fi, or even battery life.
Science and Health puts it this way: "Matter cannot connect mortals with the true origin and facts of being, in which all must end. It is only by acknowledging the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter, that mortals can lay off mortality and find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator" (p. 491).
When we recognize and acknowledge our "indissoluble spiritual link" with God, we see that this fact must be true for each of His children. Starting from this basis, our relationships with others become more meaningful because they flow from the same source, the one Mind or intelligence. Then, whether we're online, texting, tweeting, or simply having an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation, we can be inspired to respond to others in ways that are compassionate, meaningful, helpful – and that bring solutions.
We can find a perfect balance of time to engage with others and the world, and moments of deep and satisfying communion with our Creator. Then we're really connected!