Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Giving Thanks for the Internet

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My newest ministry adventure officially “goes public” today. Although Advent begins on December 2, my online retreat on Advent of Jesus through the Eyes of Others begins today. It begins before Advent because I wanted people to have time to get comfortable with the online format. Also, frankly, there’s a lot to cover in the coming eight weeks, and it was important not to overwhelm retreatants in this busy season by giving more than one meditation each week. So…as this retreat unfolds, and our country is focused on Thanksgiving (though Christmas already lurks around every corner!), I am giving thanks for the Internet.

It’s hard to believe that the Internet wasn’t even available to the general public (beyond educational and scientific institutions) until 1989, and the World Wide Web didn’t begin making an impact on our lives until the mid 1990s. It has become such a ubiquitous part of our lives that it’s hard to believe this technology has just left its teen years. Like any teenager, the Internet has seen a tumultuous adolescence, yet we have also benefitted richly as it—and we—have learned and grown.

If not for the Internet, I would not have a viable writing and editing livelihood. If not for the Internet, I would not have met leaders and teachers—and also “regular folks”—who inspire me. If not for the Internet, I would not have imagined taking my Advent retreat out of a physical retreat house and onto the world stage.

So here I am, giving thanks. I give thanks for those who have signed up to join me on this journey. (It’s not too late to join us, by the way. We will spend this first week getting to know each other, and understanding how this Internet technology will enable us to listen, reflect, and experience Advent together in new ways. Prior weeks’ retreat material will be available through January 13, so even if you’re reading this a couple of weeks after I post it, it’s not too late to join us!)

I give thanks for reliable electricity, which enables me to provide this opportunity to anyone else who also has regular access to electricity and the Internet (and I continue to pray for Puerto Ricans, the majority of whom are still living without electricity, almost two months after Hurricane Maria decimated the island).

I give thanks for those who have joined me on the various parts of my spiritual journey, teaching me as I grew and participating in earlier, in-person versions of retreats or quiet days on this topic. I give thanks for others who have offered online retreat experiences, showing me what is possible and shining light on the path I am now walking.

I also give thanks for time beyond the Internet. Balance is key with all aspects of our lives. This past week I have been on vacation in southern California, enjoying time away from the Internet—though, of course, being a freelancer, some work has raised its hand for my attention, and I’ve been grateful for Internet accessibility so I can serve my clients’ needs, write this blog post, and then take a break to walk along the beach!

How has the Internet impacted your spiritual life—including and beyond the ability to read this and other spiritual blogs? For what do you need to give thanks this week?

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Author: Shirin McArthur

I'm a spiritual guide, retreat leader, writer and editor.

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