Rector's Ramblings February 7, 2018
I finally broke down and asked Santa for an Apple Watch this year. I must have been good because I found one under the tree on Christmas morning. What is an Apple Watch, you might ask (since some folks don’t keep up with such things)? It’s a “smart watch” made by Apple, which pairs with my iPhone. It is, first and foremost, a watch, but it can do a lot more. It can give me notifications about incoming phone calls, messages, emails (I don’t use this feature – too many!), the weather, your health, and so many other things. It’s not as fancy as some folks might think, and yet it’s still pretty impressive at the same time. I have enjoyed it for its simplicity and its style. It’s not as intrusive as I worried it would be, and has proven itself quite useful in the weeks I’ve had it.
The Apple Watch is not the only smart watch out there; there are many, ranging from very inexpensive to thousands of dollars. All things being equal, the Apple Watch is moderately priced when compared with other smart watches. Each brand’s watches have signature abilities, things that they excel at. I think the Apple Watch is right in the middle, right in the sweet spot, which might account for its top sales position in its market. Over the last seven to eight years, I have become an Apple consumer. In that time, I’ve had two MacBook laptops, two iPads, four iPhones, and now the Apple Watch. None have disappointed me, apart from the annoying battery issue with the iPhone 6s. But I digress.
One of the things I like best about the Apple Watch is that it helps me keep track of health stats. It tracks my movement; how many steps I take, how many flights of stairs I climb, how often I get up and walk around, and more. It measures my heartrate, and in fact, I opted into a heart study through the Apple Watch and researchers at a large University. If my heart rate does something too odd, a doctor in the study will call me to find out what triggered it and provide information for their study. I also get reminders to get up and move around if I have been too sedentary. I’m actually in a sedentary phase lately, so that’s good.
Perhaps the most unexpected feature of the watch, however, has been its reminders to meditate. There is a reminder they call, breathe, but what it reminds me to do is to take at least a minute for focused breathing, or in my case, prayerful meditation. Even in small doses it’s incredibly powerful. There are apps for iPhone that have done this for a long time, but I don’t always have my iPhone on me, and for some reason, they never worked. But when I get that soft vibration indicator on my wrist, it gets my attention in a different way. The Watch sits adjacent to my Orthodox prayer bracelet on my left wrist, which means I frequently use the reminder to say the Jesus Prayer a few times.
With my personality and my calendar, reminders like that are helpful. Just momentary breaks from the calendar and the to-do list are restorative and helpful. Which is also why I am offering my daily prayer texts again during the season of Lent. Over the years, I’ve sent out daily prayers, short prayers, via text message to those who want to receive them. They aren’t all Cranmer-esque. Some of them are a bit avant-garde, depending on the mood I’m in when I write them. Some are quite informal as I simply take a bit of conversational prayer and share it. Writing them is a spiritual practice for me in this season, and it’s one I’m happy to share.
If you’d like to receive the prayer texts, just email me your name and cell phone number. I’ll add you to the list. If that’s not your thing, perhaps you can find a way to set up a daily interruption of your own during Lent. Perhaps it will allow you to connect with God in prayer, or revisit a Lenten practice you enjoy. Maybe it will remind you that you gave up chocolate before you eat that brownie. Who knows? The season of Lent starts next Wednesday, and it’s a perfect time to let God interrupt our lives a bit.
The Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Repeat)