Odysseus knew the dangers. Forewarned and forearmed he asked to be bound to the ship’s mast to stop himself being lured to his death by the Siren’s seductive song. Emily Wilson writes, 'The Sirens—and their fateful songs—offered a glimpse behind the veil, a chance to hear how earthly glories would echo in eternity. “The question of what song the Sirens sing, what is this forbidden knowledge, what's wrong with it, what's the temptation—the text leaves a lot of open space there,” Wilson said. Therein lies the seduction.'
My phone, this seductive shiny 2.5in x 5in slender little extension to my life — I seem to have the whole world within my reach, on my doorstep, on my bedside table. This is very alluring, very overwhelming.
The Sirens sing of knowledge, they promise to take me behind the veil, to discover things unseen, unknown and secrets woo my eyes from pockets, bags and other rooms. Like an unweaned child it pleads, clings and wants to be carried constantly with me, even into the bathroom! Would that someone would tie me to the mast of abiding in Him to keep me from straying! It and other avenues of enticement circle tirelessly willing to feed the hunger inside, it is the white noise which placates the silence of our soul. I am weak. What is the diagnosis? FOMO? Fear of Missing Out FOBUI? Fear of Being Under Informed FOBOOTL? Fear of Being Out of The Loop IDLING? (self-explanatory) All of the above? The pull is real. The wrestle is constant. The battle is made foggier still as it is waged on multiple fronts, a song from many sides. Our lovely little world becomes too big, too busy.
Where does this faraway song take me?
Jesus talked about loving my neighbour. Who is my neighbour? I see the Samaritan picking up the wounded man and placing him on his mule, carrying him to safety and recovery. But in this bigger world we have too many ‘neighbours’, the mule is piled high with bodies and buckles under the burden. If I’m not careful I find myself exchanging the Personal for the impersonal. I used to struggle with emotional margin, carrying the care for everyone, I would become numb, until finally I would find it hard to care for anyone properly. No room on the mule! We become burdened with the whole world on our shoulders and forget it is God who holds the whole world in His hands. We are online Marthas; cumbered, careful and troubled about many things. I am reminded of Jesus’s words to take the message of the Gospel first to Judaea, then Samaria, then to the ends of the Earth. He did not say go to the ends of the Earth and then work backwards. Here, this little piece of life, these people, this is where life starts and flourishes out from. This is my integrity. This is my garden to cultivate. That’s not to say the ends of the earth should be disregarded but that my priorities need to be in order. In contrast to Martha, her sister Mary chose the ‘good part’ or translated - portion, the portion which wouldn’t be taken away from her. Here I observe three things; 1. Only one thing is needed 2. I have to choose it 3. What I’m given I get to keep The world would have us believe we need many things. We have once again been ‘encumbered about by many things’ and failing to choose the good thing for our life. Choice. We can’t help but wander. But we need to learn to daily choose the part which remains, which can’t be taken away. The news changes hourly, the feed refreshes and updates minute by minute but God’s presence and rich words of wisdom remain unmoving. Our hearts need to lean into a different song, one which will see our hearts simplified, liberated and childlike: ‘Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be. Let that goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it seal it for Thy courts above’
I have no one to tie me to the mast but I can grow in making better choices. I must tie myself there.
And with great irony I leave us with these thoughts as I leave my screen.