Reflections on Shuffle-Play

I listened to a Ted talk recently about the importance of allowing oneself to be bored sometimes. In these modern times it is possible to fill in the cracks of every day with something. If we do have time to be still, so often the phone is out and we are shuffling through Facebook or Twitter. We quite literally don’t know how to just ‘be’ anymore and truth be told, I find it a little scary. I don’t like that my face is always buried in my phone. Even though I put it down when others are talking to me, I feel the itch to pick it up again, to get back to whatever pressing e-mail or post or text is on my mind.

In fact, I wonder if my relationship with my phone is part of what is making me feel so exhausted. As part of this same Ted talk, the presenter was talking about how when our brains are switching gears constantly, as they are when go from writing a document, to checking a text, to working on a sermon, to checking e-mail, to reading a news story, to watching a video, etc. that the brain can only do this so much. It changes the chemistry in the brain so that we need more and more stimulation. I imagine it is like eating Doritos – we get so used to the intense flavors that eating something natural and with a milder taste just doesn’t cut it anymore. More salt! More fat! And in a similar way our brains cry out for more stimulation, more activity, more hits of social media.

I quite literally have my phone in my hand most of the day. Even if social media isn’t a huge part of that (although some days it is more of my time than I like to admit) I listen to my music and podcasts on my phone, I keep my calendar on my phone, I revel in how ‘easy’ it makes my life. I love that I can work from anywhere because people can reach me anywhere. And yet, the way it makes me so constantly connected is part of what is so exhausting. There is NEVER any down time. From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep I am plugged in to the world.

I think I need to take a break from it. I need to manage my relationship with my phone differently in hopes that if I allow my brain to slow down a bit, allow boredom to catch up with me a little, perhaps I can begin to feel more rested again.

I’ll start with a Facebook fast for the rest of the day. That sounds really good right now.

The 59th Street Bridge Song

Simon and Garfunkel

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovyHello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t’cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

Published by Ruth E. Hetland

Ruth E. Hetland is the pastor of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Audubon, Minnesota. She is a mom, wife, skeptic, and Alt for Norge (Norwegian reality show) participant. She has served as a pastor in three other congregations prior to Saint Peter's: Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Newstead in Akron, New York, First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Our Savior's Lutheran Church at Norse of Clifton, Texas. She has been published in The Lutheran magazine, Christ in Our Home, the Word in Season, the Upper Room, Sundays and Seasons, and several other worship resources. Her most recent book is "Writing With a View of the Graveyard: Loss, Life, and Unruly Grace;" (2018). This devotional with photographs of rural churches is available in black and white on Amazon and in full-color by contacting Ruth at; Ruth's first book, a preaching resource, "The Power of Place and Story in Preaching," was published in 2012 and is available on Amazon. Ruth can be contacted at

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