Forgive the long silence. I have been piling up the kilometres on the odometer that’s now crossed 25,000 in 11 months.
One experiment I’d been longing to try was to actually go mobile-phone free. The opportunity came when I planned to short trip to Sri Lanka. I decided I’d leave my mobile phone behind and see how I’d survive. In 19 years of my working life –okay that’s only 17 years since I actually started using a mobile – this was going to be my first attempt. Apart from the panic of the first hour I found it a wonderful way to actually delink and spend real quiet time. Otherwise you never really are switched off. And switching off now and then is often the secret to leading truly switched on lives. It’s a great way to remind ourselves who is slave and who is master in that sometimes uneasy relationship we have with technology. So go ahead and give it a try – a mobile phone free week!
I was in Sri Lanka for a few reasons. One was to take some time off for spiritual and personal reflection. It is difficult in our busy lives to make time to really be still but I can testify to the benefits. As I often shared with my teams at work – we need both microscope and telescope. Sometimes all we get busy with is staring into the microscope. To draw back and gaze at the big picture of our lives through the telescope is revealing and energizing. With the guidance of my friend and spiritual director, Father Paul, I found time to ask myself some tough questions and re-commit myself to the big ‘whys’ behind the life I’m leading.
I also got to spend some time at the orphanage Father Paul and his community runs in North Sri Lanka. All the children there have in some way or the other been scarred by the war. I met with children who had witnessed their parents and friends killed, some who had trained to be suicide bombers and several who were having their first attempt at any kind of schooling. So while the war fought with guns and mines is over – the war within continues. It is a long road to peace and reconciliation and a new future that the next generation needs to work on creating.
I also saw real giving in action. Teresa and I and a few friends have along the years supported in a very small way the children there. But how small that contribution is, was clear as I got to see the big work that Father Paul and his community put in living with the children, working with them, mentoring them, playing with them – making a daily difference. It takes courage and sacrifice to really give. It reminded me of that challenging epitaph on my grandfather’s grave that Dad penned “He gave even when it hurt”.
That’s some ‘giving’ benchmark to strive for.