You’ve seen those “unplugged” concerts on TV, right? That’s when a musician–let’s say a guitarist–unplugs his instrument and amplifiers. He drags a tall stool onto the middle of the stage and climbs up on it. A cone of light shines down on him, spilling over his shoulders. While you watch and wait, he tunes his guitar; maybe he strums a few practice chords and props one foot on a rung.

You can’t see into the darkness that surrounds him.  There’s just the musician on the stage, the guitar across his lap, and a golden pool of light.

Then he plays, and you really hear him. Not the amplification, not a back-up group or a band. Just the singer’s raw voice. Just the guitar’s pure music.

I thought about what it means to be unplugged the other day, when I came across an interview with the writer Anne Lamott. Lamott is wildly popular for her  books on faith, which recount her journey from druggie and alcoholic to a deep and abiding faith. Lamott is a Sunday School teacher now, and a church-goer, but you’d never mistake her for some blue-haired grandmotherly type with a Bible under her arm. Her language can be profane, and pretty much everything about her life is  unorthodox and unconventional. She has, I think, described herself as “Jesus-y,” not in the sense that she is “kind-of” committed to her faith (she is very committed), but because she’s not typical.

I’ve attended one of her talks, and the effect she has on people is amazing. The crowd that turns out to see her isn’t your usual church group. Instead, it’s likely to be made up of addicts and recovering addicts; gays; aging hippies; people who’ll stand up with tears in their eyes and say that they haven’t been to church for years and years because (fill in the blanks–there are so many reasons to fall away or run away), but now they’ve read her words and they feel God’s love again, and they’re so glad, because they’d felt lost and now they are found…and oh, yes. There are folks there that look and sound just like the regular Sunday morning worship group.

Lamott draws a crowd, I believe–she draws this crowd–because she writes about a Jesus whose love is so deep, so high, so limitless and sweet, that it reaches everyone. Everyone. No one has to feel left out or unwanted, because the Jesus she knows loves us all.

So. I came across the interview she gave the other day. And I read about how she has decided to unplug.

Lamott “unplugs” by not having a Facebook page. She doesn’t tweet or post on a blog. I don’t think she even has a website, other than a couple of fan sites people have created about her–but she’s not affiliated with those. Her agent has a site, so people can reach her there to book an appearance or request an interview.

But Lamott says that time is precious, and she has chosen not to engage in all this social networking stuff so she can be present for her family and friends and write.  That’s it. She simply writes.

Most of us who are trying to build a writing career are told that we don’t have that luxury. We’re supposed to build a community, a following, by reaching out through every avenue available to us. We should have thousands of followers on each social platform. That’s what editors and agents want to see, if we’re asking them to publish our work. They want to know that we bring not only our best writing to the table, but also many potential readers. It’s all about the business of writing.

What would happen, I wonder, if we unplugged? If we didn’t worry about the platforms and the blog posts and we just wrote? Would readers find us, if our content was good enough? Or is the world so cluttered and noisy now, that nobody hears that single, raw voice?

Is the meditation of one heart enough anymore?

Gives another dimension of meaning, doesn’t it, to that line we hear on the commercials all the time: Can you hear me now?

Can you?

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14, KJV