The video below takes an interesting twist on the usual cell-phone commercial which emphasizes strong signals, numerous “bars” of signal strength, and the memorable question, “Can you hear me now?”
But this commercial seeks a very different kind of “connectivity” using the cell phone, as its owner is desperate to get away, and not be heard or seen.
Suddenly the “bars” are not about connectivity, but are prison bars. The signal strength is more about the strength of the world to hold us captive. And the incessant question “Can you hear me now” comes to represent the din of a world that never stops its intrusive distractions and the need to hear another voice, the voice of God.
We moderns have many creature comforts, and a standard of living unimagined by our ancestors. And yet we also have levels of stress and a pace of life that would terrify most of them. Today, I put 110 miles on my car going about my day on numerous priestly errands. Two hundred years ago, it was quite possible that a person never journeyed more than 50 miles from their birthplace in their entire life.
Imagine the shock to a denizen of the 18th Century, magically transported to our time. There he would be with me in the car as I traveled at almost 70mph down the highway, merging in and out of traffic at speed, a speed almost unimaginable to him (70 miles in one hour? he thinks, Really? Is that possible?). And all the while:
- A voice out of thin air, from a device they call a “radio” sounding with a fast-paced announcer,
- And a “metal box they call a cell phone” ringing and conversations taking place with an unknown interlocutor by some magical process.
- And there we would be, pulling into a hospital, 43 miles away, in less than an hour (how is that possible?!), in what was to him a distant city.
- Overhead fly “airplanes” from the nearby Airport, the planes whisking overhead at 300 mph.
- Suddenly it is back to the big city, a quick lunch with food that is heated, not by fire but in some magical box with a high-pitched hum.
- And it’s off to another meeting across town weaving and whisking through traffic.
- Everywhere in that city people rushing about, phones ringing, radios playing, cars tooting horns, construction noise, the sound of loud buses, and, overhead, still more planes and helicopters.
- Despite what was to him breakneck speed, still there is me, complaining as to the slow pace of traffic and that we’re going to be late.
Soon enough our friend from the 18th century begins to shake with trauma, and cover his ears from all the loud noise and the constant interruptions. Magically transported back to the 18th Century, and shaking with trauma, he tells his friends of his visit to hell, where people rush about in metal devices at dizzying speeds and complain that they are late. And the noise! Oh the noise! And the terrifying fact that the people are required to travel over 100 miles a day before they can rest, and they must be in multiple places and do multiple things all at once: Being forced to talk into metal devices whenever they ring, and still hold conversations with people around them, even as another voice coming out thin air (which they called a radio) speaks of bad things like murders, and no jobs and rising prices, and then it blares music. And the little metal box keeps ringing, and they keep talking into it, and rushing down roads at high speed and wondering if they’ll be late again.
Well you get the point. Can you imagine how quiet it would seem if we magically went to the 18th Century?
In the hours after 9/11 here in DC, nearby National Airport ceased operations, and most businesses closed here, and most people stayed home, glued to their TVs. Most cell phones fell silent too; the still new technology overwhelmed by demand, simply shut down. There was an eerie silence outside. Only the strange smell of burning jet fuel from the nearby Pentagon reminded of the horrible mayhem that preceded this eerie peace. No cars, no phones, no planes over head. All in stillness.
“Can you hear me now?” Yes Lord, I can hear you now. I can hear you you in the stillness. A still, small voice, a whisper in the heart, a pause in the action, giving room for God. Yes, Lord, I can hear you now. I can hear you.
In this commercial four men seek for a place where there is “No Signal” from the world. The Ad says, “Chevy runs deep.” Yes, but God runs deeper, in that place where God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Where is your place of no-signal? Where is your place that you can hear God say, “Can you hear me now?”