The Classroom of Silence: May I Have Your Phone

I didn't want to go away last weekend. I had things to do. And it was Octoberfest in downtown, so I thought it would be fun to sit at a long checkered table with friends and pretend we were not American for the day. Anything with the word festival in it, I love.  Retreat, does not have the word festival in it.  But I went.

The arrival was great, until I was next in line for my name tag.  That is when they said it, "May I please have your phone? We will put it in a safe place and return it on departure."

What kind of question was that? Couldn't they see I was still writing my name down to introduce myself?

"Hello, I am Sheila and this is my cellphone, iphone. We are very pleased to met you."

But instead of handing my phone over, I just stared.  It was strange.  I felt like she asked for my liver.  I pulled my phone back toward my chest and said I needed to make some quick texts (and let the world know I was disappearing for over 48 hours.)

That's when it hit me. I was addicted to my phone.  I needed to step back. I needed to not always be so accessible. I no longer had "me time," I was on my phone-book's  email contact's, text chain and every other form of social media's time.

And you know what, besides the fact the retreat surpassed any silly festival experience, I discovered the classroom of silence (as Matthew Kelly calls it). When I talked to someone, they are all I saw.  No beeping in the background or swooshing sounds letting me know I had 23 more emails. Silence.  And during down time, I remembered what it was like to walk with two hands swinging by my side and nothing in my back pocket reminding me my time is not my own.  I felt rejuvenated.

At the end of the retreat, I received a brown paper bag with my cellphone in it.  I check my name tag, it just said Sheila - smartphone had it's own little vacation and I was not sure I wanted it back.  I pulled it out of the bag a little sad to loose so much freedom, and found almost 100 emails, too many texts and other messages.  I smiled, put it in my back pocket and said, "I will get to you in my own time."  And with that I walked away with hands swinging free by my side.

I challenge you all to pick a day or even an hour a week to put away your smartphones, computers, ipods, ipads, itouches, and any other type of technology I missed and rediscover silence.  For it is in the silence we find ourselves, grow, discover and heal.

(If you got to the end of this - many high fives to you.  But now and then I like to be slightly verbose.)

P.S. How do you all handle sifting through communication in an over communicated world?

And while you are at it feel free to check out these lovely inspiring ladies!


Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren :

I am connect and disconnected all at the same time. I can easily not bring my phone

Kristina :

Sheila, now I'm completely convinced that we have connected minds ;-) Last night I was thinking about how much my time is dictated by my phone. I'm always available...and the most frightening thing is that everybody expects it to be that way. After that realization hit me I decided to put a stop to it. On my phone and my macbook I logged out on Facebook/Twitter/etc., and in the end I just turned both my macbook and my phone completely off. I sat down on the couch with a hot bowl of chilli and a great book instead and enjoyed the silence. It felt so so good!

Vanisha @ Vanishas Life In...Australia :

I like the convenience of my iphone but I definitely don't have any problems disconnecting from it. When I travel I don't usually use it at all. You're right, it's so liberating not having it for a while...

Megan Wait :

Nothing like being without a phone that makes you realise how dependent you really are on them, hey.

I sometimes leave my phone at home on purpose, just to have a good working day, but it kinda gets on my nerves!

And just yesterday, I dropped my phone, and the screen shattered. I am not so thrilled by the fact that it has to go in for repairs. Forty-eight hours is alright. A week? mmm

Katie Cook :

love love love this! It's so true, when we are connected the most in PERSON, we have the deepest longings of our heart filled...both with God and others:)

THere is a book out right now about this couple moving into an Amish community, and how they said they never felt freer. How the Amish are the happiest people because their lives are simple and their relationships are strong.

That is why i'm still holding onto my ghetto flip phone! hahahahah!

have a great day girl, love Katie

Katie Ann :

This is so true. Just the other evening instead of doing photo editing, spending time on Facebook or on blogs, I grabbed a book I've been reading and ran up the street to my favorite coffee shop where I curled up in a big leather chair, sipped on a mocha and let myself read, think and dream. These little moments are so important.

p.s. Love, love love your blog!

Sheila@TheFailteHouse :

Kristina! Hahha, you might be right! Reading on a couch with a big bowl of chili sounds pretty amazing. It is so hard to turn everything off, but when we do - it brings us back to the "now" and that is always the best place to be. God is smart :) Hope you are having a wonderful German day! xo

Tina @ Like Ordinary Life :

My husband went phone-less for a few months this year. Not just smartphone-less. Phone-less. He loved it. I mean, LOVED it. He actually despises his phone now. But, the worrywart of a wife I am, I don't want him commuting or traveling without a phone. He doesn't have a smartphone and he wants to keep it that way. I only got an iphone this year and I completely understand that whole "attached to me" part of it. It's good to have a reality check every once and awhile.

jamie-lee :

I think it's such a great idea to just disconnect, and you feel so much better for it!

Sheila@TheFailteHouse :

Jamie-lee, I could not agree more - it is such a hard thing for me to do, but am working on it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Have a great day xo

Kristin :

THANK YOU for sharing this Sheila! You are so right...we are so attached to/governed by those little ever-ringing rectangular boxes...we feel like we've lost a part of our soul if we leave them somewhere. I have some company coming in tomorrow, and you know what? I'm going to challenge both of us to a day (or two) of phone free living. I'll let you know if we carry through with it! :-)

Beth @ the city :

Oh man, I would have had the same want WHAT?! But seriously, taking a break from the thing can be so refreshing. We do it when we camp, even though there may be cell service. I need to disconnect and try to do it on weekends a bit. Even though it feels odd, I love the feeling of disengaging even more!

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