So I purchased some voice software this week. It is part of my attempt to enter the 21st century. It is also a recognition that I am getting older and need to take care of myself in ways that I had never thought of. The math is quite simple. If I type less then my hands won't hurt. If my hands don't hurt I can play more music. However it is a challenge. After all ministers work with words (spoken and written) most of the time.
There is something strange about talking to my computer. It isn't the talking itself so much as the isolation. Typing and writing are by nature isolating events. However speaking usually assumes listening. I keep thinking of the Apostle Paul. He used dictation, too but at least he was dictating to another human being.
I have always been more of a talker than a writer anyway. If you ask anyone I spend time with (certainly congregants) they will tell you I talk a lot. At parties I hold forth without even thinking about it. When I preach I do it loudly and move around more than our amplification system can handle. That is what I am used to. Talking to myself with the aid of technology is just weird.
Maybe this aspect of isolation is why I haven't been able to use it to write sermons yet. It feels strange. It is hard to think about the ultimate audience for a spoken medium when having a vocal conversation with an inanimate screen. I am finding writing blog posts easier. After all, dictation is a lot more like writing than talking in public. I wonder though if this will ultimately change my preaching style.
All of this does make me think a little bit about isolation at the end of the old year. After the frantic running about during Advent and the first days of Christmas it feels strangely quiet. I wonder if that is why people search out large groups to party with or at least sit home and watch them on TV. Maybe we think that quiet is a trend! In any case, at the beginning of the new year one cannot help but wonder if the silence is a temporary condition or the beginning of something new.
I hope we all find ways to be with ourselves this year. I hope we find positive forms of isolation or "aloneness". However, I also hope we don't make it a habit. Talking to ourselves is fine in small amounts but if we have learned anything from the year past it is that we need to reach out. We need to find ways to be in groups both of strangers into friends. We need the connection that comes from knowing different people. Perhaps as we prepare for whatever comes next we should look with intention at promoting not just the diversity of our communities or our Facebook pages but also adding diversity (racial, ethnic, ideological, philosophical, religious) to our lives as we live them.