GPS–Global Positioning Spirituality

May 11, 2011

My husband and I were in the car last week experimenting with his new GPS. We didn’t like the proposed map it gave us to our destination, so we ignored the spoken directions. Every time we disobeyed the cheery female Brit, she did not yell at us. She did not shout mean epithets or call us stupid. She simply said “Recalculating.” About the tenth time she said, “Recalculating,” I thought, “This is what God is like.” God is in the Recalculation business. Every time I go through wrong or unhealthy doors, God opens new ones for me.

Recalculating is about second, third, and umpteenth chances; it is about redemption. “Do you think I take any pleasure in the death of wicked men and women? Isn’t it my pleasure that they turn around, no longer living wrong but living right – really living?” (Ezekiel 18:23, MSG) I like this about God. God may have an optimal path for me, but God never seems to tire of giving me a new map when I stray.

So here’s a freaky piece of synchronicity. On Sunday I listened to On Being, an interview show with Krista Tippett on public radio. Krista interviews people of different religious faiths and traditions on their spiritual life and practices. On Mothers’ Day her guest was Sylvia Boorstein, a Jewish Buddhist with a calming presence and a empathetic sense of humor. In the midst of her conversation, Sylvia started talking about her GPS and its tendency towards “Recalculating.” She noted that it never gets annoyed with her. She suggested that every time we get irritated at the daily challenges in our lives, we have a choice about the road we take. We can get mad about the annoyances we experience and share our indignation with friends on the telephone. “Indignation is seductive,” she says. But instead we can make the choice for “Recalculating.” We can choose not to “fuel the flame of our anger” and our indignation. We can walk a different fork in the road.

So this week a Christian and a Jewish Buddhist both received spiritual teachings from their GPS. I am grateful to have received two different but intersecting teachings from technology.