Everybody knows what junk mail is. And we all know by the same means: we each get too much of it. Now with the advent of email the junk has a new and even more insidious way to find us.
A friend recently asked me “what makes junk mail junk?” Unsolicited was the first word to come to my mind. But then I realized that I had solicited some of the emails I’ve now come to delete without reading.
Then another way to characterize it popped into my head: imbalance. As often as junk mail comes unsolicited or not by way of some fishing or spamming algorithms, it comes immeasurably beyond my interest.
Thanks to junk email I can check my credit report, everyday. I can vacation in Cancun, I can make $10,000 / week, in my own living room!
If I can be interested in the content of the email then its sending, unsolicited or not, is balanced by my receiving. That’s how the junk mail keeps coming. You see anything that looks interesting and then in just one clicking of a link the “interwebs” and their formulaic minions take over. Within 24 hours every “friend” of the original sender is on your computer’s doorstep, begging even more of your interest and soon, too soon you are back to imbalance.
Thanks to all the ways our computers, operating systems, email apps, and internet providers help to shunt away and sift through the unbalancing piles it is not as bad as it could be. Yet even with their help our interest is demanded, pestered and strained.
This becomes a way to talk about living sacramentally because the way God persists into our lives is similar but different from junk mail.
There is a similarity between unsolicited email and unconditional love. They both are sent without our asking. But there is an important difference that comes by way of our receiving what is sent.
Junk emails need only curiosity’s click of interest and our free will becomes dependent on finding the unsubscribe link in the fine print at the bottom or even worse on having to listen to Muzak while on hold to the 800 number.
Living sacramentally invites a kind of receiving that works to sustain our interest and to continue the exchange.
Think about how you feel some Sundays as you return from the altar. A tiny morsel of bread, a sip of sweet wine and nothing is better to invite us into our part of sustaining the balance of interest and love. Even better think of how you feel when your own broken-ness becomes the moment kin to clicking the link titled “help.”
For sure we can be perturbed because ours are the lives that need reconciling and we will not always simply be graced with positive outcomes. Sometimes we have to wait, sometimes without Muzak.
Junk mail always pushes us toward an imbalance because it feeds off our interest. God’s love persists but doesn’t abuse us or coerce another “click.” God’s reconciling presence always finally feeds us and it’s never junk.