If you see an intelligent man, visit him early;
let your foot wear out his doorstep.
-Wisdom of Sirach 6:36
When I read this passage, I paused to reflect on my early morning activity. How do I spend the initial moments I am awake? Like most people, I often reach for my phone and check new emails and sometimes social media notifications. According to one survey from 2017, nearly 70% of adults sleep with their phone nearby, which implies it is the first thing they look at in the morning. The average adult also checks their phone 80-110 times per day. Those numbers may be even higher now due to the Covid pandemic further digitizing our lives.
We are advised by the wise Sirach to wear out the doorstep of a wise man. While I make a daily effort to read the Scriptures, what doorstep am I truly wearing out? In a few years, am I more likely to wear out my Bible or my phone? Which doorstep am I frequenting?
If I am checking news, social media, or playing games throughout the day, I am allowing my mind to be pulled and influenced by the voices there. However, if I spend my free moments reading the Lives of the Saints or a passage of Scripture, I am investing my mind in something far greater. Likewise I could spend a few moments saying the Jesus Prayer or soaking in my surroundings, being fully present.
As our society becomes further polarized, there are many competing voices claiming to bring people wisdom, awareness, and wokeness. From the news to social media, however, nearly all the wisdom that is being offered is wisdom of this world. St. Paul quotes Isaiah saying of God, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart” (1 Cor. 1:19).
Where will I invest my time and energy? In the mob of voices clamoring to be heard on the various media mediums or in the words of our Lord and His saints? Before smartphones, people carried pocket Bibles exactly for this reason. I wonder if it is time for me to begin doing that again.
What if every time I felt an impulse to look at my phone, I looked at my surroundings and pondered the present moment? Numerous secular studies have shown a concerning correlation between heavy cell phone usage and diminished happiness, anxiety, relationship breakdown, and depression.
The change we want to see must start with us. Why not begin today?
Image from Valaam.ru