The Twelve Blogs of Christmas: Fourth Day – Calling

Yesterday I spent about an hour and a half on the phone with my phone company (really. I timed it), trying to get to the bottom of what I thought was my outrageous phone and internet bill. As it turns out, my bill wasn’t as big as I had thought it was. But it’s given me pause to think about how we communicate – what call is, how we use it, how we understand it, and how we’re connected by it.

I’m old enough to remember when all phones were tethered to the wall and owned by the phone company. They had rotary dials. It would be really frustrating to get to the last digit of a phone number and suddenly drop the rotary – and then you’d have to start all over again. There were no answering machines and certainly no cell phones. Not even pagers. If you weren’t home you didn’t know if someone had called. If you were already on the line, someone else who was calling got a busy signal.

My brother once broke his arm at camp, and my mother had accidentally knocked the phone off the hook, so the camp couldn’t get through on the phone. Eventually, the camp had to call the NYPD who sent police to my mother’s apartment to knock on the door and let her know what had happened. We don’t think about this stuff these days.

We’re always connected. If I happen to leave my house without my cell phone – or if my cell phone is dead, I feel a bit vulnerable. What if I need to reach someone? What if I have an emergency?

We’re just so connected these days. All the time. And the world expects us to be. The first time I went overseas, my family didn’t expect to hear from me, except for postcards, until I returned home. In an emergency I could place a call from Europe, but that would have been really expensive.

Last year, when I went to France with Don, we just activated a worldwide plan on our phones and switched something in the sim card (or changed out the sim card – I don’t remember), and then we could make and receive calls to and from Europe. We were constantly available.

We’re bombarded with information. Clearly – I mean, I send this blog out, and people read it all over the world. I’m amazed at the countries I’ve touched just by writing. The thing is with all that’s out there – sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the message from the noise. And there is a lot of noise.

It can be easy to ignore what’s important. Although, sometimes what’s important has a way of being persistent, and eventually we get it. I’d heard the call to ministry years ago. Many years ago. I ignored it for a long time. I pressed the hold button. I’m not alone in this. Eventually the call started coming through a bullhorn. God is funny that way.

So I’m wondering if we aren’t supposed to be that way too, sometimes. With the important stuff, I mean. You know, sometimes we need to call people out on something. Sometimes. It only works if we do it in love and with compassion. But perhaps, like God, we shouldn’t give up when it’s important.

Then there’s the thing that some people do, which is to get outraged about everything all the time – to call nearly everyone out about nearly everything. That doesn’t work, either. Then it just becomes part of the noise.

I’ve gotten used to being connected. I do like to take a connection holiday every now and again, but on the whole, I like being able to stay in touch. But I don’t necessarily care where everyone I know is every minute of the day. I don’t need to know what everyone had for breakfast. Back before we had so many ways to communicate, we would never have considered calling each other just to say, “eating oatmeal and coffee – yum.”  Well, maybe if someone hadn’t eaten in six weeks, but you get my drift.

So, what are you being called to do? Can you hear it over the noise? How are your connections? Give me a ring sometime.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.


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