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Computer technology gives new meaning to radical commitment

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

How many ways can I say aggravation? If I were Browning, I’d be counting and describing them with gracious poetry, but I am stuck in my aggravation.

Admittedly, in fact with loudly vigorous admission, I am not a techie, not a computer geek, nerd, or even an informed user. My computer, I tell all, is my expensive typewriter. I have managed a degree of competence in word processing, as well as sending and receiving e-mails.

Every once in a while, I score on an Internet search, but for the most part, I rest easy and comfortably with my limited use.

My friends, however, have dragged me—kicking and screaming—into the larger world of cyberspace. After a long time of suggesting and prodding, I succumbed to their pleas and got DSL. Well, the truth is it got me.

After a few minor glitches and a lot of help from my friend Matt, all seemed to go well with my new server. That is, it went well until I tried to delete the software from the previous server. Then the floodgates opened.

First came the phone call to a third world person. He tried hard to communicate but his accent and mine seriously clashed. We worked diligently to overcome the handicap as I studiously followed his instructions to delete all evidence of that server.

I did a computer search that indicated all related information was erased, bound for secure trash and never to be discovered again...unless a hacker was called for service!

With great relief, I attempted an Internet connection. You guessed it...no dice! In no time flat, a message appeared telling me I needed a phone number to connect. I responded to the message with one of my own—spoken directly at my computer. “I have DSL now. I don’t need to enter a phone number. That was the whole purpose for the change from dialup!”

Obviously, the message block was not impressed. It simply sat on my screen daring me to deny its reality. Now was the time to phone the new server for help. In the meantime, copy for my Beacon column lurked in the outbox.

The technician from the new server walked me through a maze of sites and numbers and finally declared all the settings were accurate and I should be fine. I was...for about five minutes. Then the message appeared again.

With God’s good grace, the outbox had miraculously emptied during the process of my chat with the tech. At least, my copy had been sent, but I had hospital messages waiting and e-mails to family and friends. My life had somehow become so entwined with the fun and joy of instant communication I was now bereft in its absence.

Back to the phone I went. A return to the future with my new server pal. Our previous steps were retraced. Still no connection could be made. I held my breath, hoping against hope I would not hear further bad news, but, it came.

“You have a Macintosh product. You’ll have to contact them. We cannot do anything here.” The buck was being passed.

There was a hint that probably some small item from the former server had not been removed or a preference setting was askew. But all that could be done locally had been done. I was on my own again.

First, I’d call for backup help—with great apology for interfering in his routine yet again, but with a certain degree of desperation that weakened the apology into a profound plea. “Matt!” Surely, he’d know what to do. After all, he had been the one to encourage me through my variety of angsts with this technology.

He had smiled at my minor successes, especially the early ones where I overcame the fear of the machine and dared to change something, after crossing my fingers and toes that I would not cause grave havoc and ruin my expensive toy.

As I write this piece, I await the arrival of my knight in shining armor. I do not know or understand the healing process that will be undertaken, but I have faith it will succeed. And, I am learning, once again, that little things matter.

I am learning commitment must be radical or it is not commitment at all. Commitment, whether it is to a new server or to God’s people or to ministry and, obviously, to God must include the rooting out of all the old stuff. Not one iota can remain to worm its way into the new material and corrupt it.

Even the tiniest obstacle can make connections difficult or impossible. It’s a hard lesson to learn. But it’s a good one. It’s important to pay attention to the small things we do or neglect doing.

It’s crucial to be attentive to details, little glances show disapproval, small words hurt and harm rather than heal, ill disguised sighs display annoyance and irritation. They matter.

They matter because they are the microcosmic displays of a macrocosmic universe. The huge ills of the universe likely began with tiny missteps, miniature mistakes, small deviations from grace.

They matter because they lie hidden deep within our being, deep within our society, deep within our relationships.

If we ignore them, they won’t go away. They stay ready to degrade and corrupt our interconnections. They make our networking with God’s people an impossibility—until we call for help, find and attend to the problem.

Only then, can we reconnect. Only then will we be able to erase the error messages and be at peace.

It will take time and effort, determination and dedication but it will work. It will take courage, the courage to chance more difficulty before resolution. It will take faith in the ability of another and trust success is not impossible.

The tiny fragment is causing disconnect will be discovered and removed. The server will again be devoid of corruption. Communication will be restored.

It’s definitely a radical commitment, or it is nothing at all.

Fran Salone-Pelletier has a master's degree in theology and is the author of, “AWAKENING TO GOD: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives” [a trilogy of scriptural meditations], lead chaplain at Brunswick Community Hospital, religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer and grandmother of four.