Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)
By Debra Martinez
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A questioning glance from my co-worker brought me back to the task at hand. “Sorry,” I offered. “But, any other time that cell phone would be attached to my daughter’s wrist. Why isn’t she answering the phone? As much as I pay for that phone every month….” I trailed off. Every parent in the room knew exactly what I was feeling.
Today’s cell phone frenzy has had an amazing impact on family life. Not only have our young people rewritten all social rules due to texting and picture phones, but their parents have made use of the instruments as re-attached umbilical cords that allow instant access to their absent babies.
I tried to focus again on the lesson plans that I was helping to create. But, even as I typed in the next Essential Question, my mama mind flew off into fantasy land. Had Shelly forgotten to charge her phone? Or maybe she had fallen back to sleep after I left. No. Nothing so mundane could be the issue. Someone had broken into the house. Or she had fallen in the shower and was lying unconscious. Perhaps she had snuck away from the house and was even now thumbing her way down the highway.
It is possible that the reader assumes that I have been trying to contact a daughter barely out of infancy, one that I have guiltily left at home alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shelly is actually a competent fifteen-year-old high school sophomore who is caring and reliable. In fact, she has been known to watch her younger brother, clean up the kitchen, and have supper going when her tired parents showed up after a long day at work. Even as I swallowed a feeling of shame, I picked up the phone and hit send.
Shelly’s ringbacks changed with her moods. One week, I listened to “Cry Me A River.” The next week, some unintelligible rock song assaulted my ears. Today, “Rock me, Mama,” entertained me until her answering machine message came on. I held back a grimace and started back to work.
Marsha, my co-teacher, stopped me. “What’s worrying you?” she asked, knowing that I needed to air my feelings. “Is something wrong?”
“No,” I had to reply honestly. “There is not a thing in the world wrong except that I can’t get Shelly to answer.”
“Did you need her?” she probed. “ Is she late for something?”
Again, I had to admit that she was not. As I tried to shake off my irritation, I heard another mom saying, “Now, call me when you leave the house. I want to know what time you leave.” With a cheerful good-bye, she put down her phone, but not far from her hand. The invisible cord shimmered in the air, connecting mom to her young, even though she was miles away.
Suddenly, as a new wave of frustration enveloped me, a verse from the Bible came to my overworked mind. In Psalm 139, it says,
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”
Suddenly, I was overcome with laughter. I had just gotten hold of a wonderful truth, allowing me to recapture my joy for the day. Even as I pictured my right hand laying hold of Shelly, I realized that my reaction was far from rational. My cell phone might have trouble today asserting its usual watchful role in the life of my child, but God’s omnipotent presence was still exerting its force in our lives. Peace and calm restored, I turned back to my work.
I had not typed four words when Shelly’s unique ring-tone filled the air. I picked up the phone and was pleased to be able to answer her return call in a pleasant voice, as she deserved. As I listened to her lilting voice filling me in on her plans for the day, I turned her over to her real Care-giver, one who could watch over her in any circumstance.
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