Thanks to a gift, we own the entire TV series of M*A*S*H, the fictitious Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit during the Korean War. In one episode, a movie night was scheduled to shore up morale. The film kept breaking and while Klinger would attempt to splice the pieces together, the soldiers would entertain themselves by singing and improvising verses to the song, doing impersonations, and telling jokes.
It made me wonder: do people know how to entertain themselves anymore? In the TV series, no one pulled out a cell phone, iPad, Kindle, or computer while waiting for the movie to start up again. What would happen today if a group was stranded together without access to electronics, constant background music or even cheap paperbacks to entertain themselves?
The discipline of solitude invites us to find God and find ourselves without electronics. Not that electronics are bad; I certainly own a mitt full of them myself but if I were in a situation such that they were useless to me, would I have enough of an interior life to not go stark raving mad? Are those who are always plugged in, always having something to listen to, at a loss to know what the still small voice of God sounds like? What their own interior voice sounds like? Would we know how to celebrate in dire circumstances with few props?
A way to find out is to sit in nature, unplugged, for 15 minutes a week. Work up to 15 minutes a day. This could be done alone or as a family. Go to a park, your own backyard or rooftop garden and simply listen. Having a focus such as journaling what you hear is a way to keep children engaged. Have a party where simple games are played, where imaginations are invited to be used and where every person’s involvement is essential. Take a hike without the ear buds. Set up a picnic where there is no cell phone or WiFi access.
M*A*S*H may portray a very different era but the lessons of knowing how to celebrate in tough circumstances with few props and not being completely dependent on something or someone else to entertain you are timeless qualities worth developing before the need arises.
What about you? What is entertainment without electronics look like in your world?
How to you respond to the idea of being unplugged for 15 minutes a day?
Valerie Hess is an author, instructor in the Spring Arbor University’s Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership (MSFL) program, retreat speaker, musician, mother and pastor’s wife. She does a weekly blog for the MSFL program and has written numerous articles, mostly on the themes of spiritual formation through the spiritual disciplines and church music. She has written three books: Habits of a Child’s Heart: Raising Your Kids with the Spiritual Disciplines (co-authored with Dr. Marti Watson Garlett), Spiritual Disciplines Devotional: A Year of Readings and The Life of the Body: Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation" (co-authored with Lane M. Arnold). Her husband is an Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, CO. She has two daughters.