Now it really is possible to get a phone call from God – or at least a voice mail.
Beliefnet, your Internet clearinghouse for everything spiritual — from weight loss prayers to Dalai Lama advice — will be available to you on your cell phone to aid subscribers in hearing God.
By signing up for their text message service, Beliefnet promises to send daily messages of “spiritual nourishment and wisdom” directly to your cell phone.
And while text messaging won’t likely become a large part of our spiritual traditions, it can serve to remind us not to become too comfortable with our old paths of tradition.
As a child, I remember becoming fairly comfortable with an old path left me by a burrowing animal.
It began when my father asked my brother and I to dig a ditch so that he could bury drainage pipe. He indicated to us our beginning point and our ending point. At first, the digging was difficult. Cutting a new path usually is difficult.
But after a half hour of digging, I discovered a gopher trail going the same direction my father wanted the ditch to go. So, with a new found ease, I put my pick into the hole and pulled up on the handle. I kept repeating this until my ditch was dug in half the time.
Upon returning, my father stared into the ditch as I proudly bragged on the ditch’s quick completion.
“How’d you do it so fast?” my father asked hiding his smirk.
“It was easy. I followed the gopher path and dug the ditch where the gopher had dug.”
“That’s nice,” my dad said, “but by following the established path, you took the long way around. You reached your destination, but I can’t lay pipe in that ditch.”
“Why not?” I protested.
He motioned for me to get out of the ditch and eye it from level ground. The ditch began and ended at the points he indicated, but the path was as crooked as a hose laid out by drunken fireman.
Having traditions and regular spiritual habits are good, but every once in a while it’s good to seek a higher ground by which we can survey our direction. If our spiritual habits leave out the thought process, it’s really no journey at all.
It’s like this — my grandmother lived on a forty acre farm. Every year when my parents took us there for visit, they usually got lost. But once they found the farm road, they had no trouble finding the farm house. Because the farm road was a long meandering rut that stretched across several acres of pasture. Once you entered the ruts, you knew you weren’t going anywhere but the farm house.
The rut reminded me of that ditch I’d dug for my father. It somehow got us to the house, but not before we took the scenic route.
The prophets of the Old Testament wrote volumes of protest about people whose traditions had put them in so much of a rut that their religious practices literally became their God. They were more in love with their forms of worship than they were the one they worshipped.
Using traditions to aid in our spiritual paths can be meaningful, but, if we’re not careful, it can also put is in a rut devoid of meaning.