TV is optional for me but internet is a crucial system—and I had none. Those posts I do on Facebook? Couldn’t do it. That e-mail I was going to shoot off as soon as I got home? Didn’t happen. Couldn’t send my reflection to Teresa for the “Take Note,” couldn’t check my calendar or download a book to my Kindle—and on and on. I found that every way I turned some routine I had in place for getting things done was disabled.
Talk about frustrating! Like a lot of us, there isn’t wiggle room in my life for this kind of breakdown. I adjusted some routines to keep going and other things just had to be shelved. As the situation unfolded, I noticed some things.
One thing I noticed was that each time I figured out a way to work around the obstacles, I felt a sense of triumph. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. It also made me simplify my routines.
I started noticing things I usually don’t—partly because I had to slow down to solve problems, partly because I had fewer distractions. I began to look at the thing in hand, rather than “out there” at the next thing to be done. I had to be thoughtful about things I had taken for granted.
It also meant letting go of control sometimes. I couldn’t do something, and that couldn’t be helped. I just had to relax about it. What I had thought was under control wasn’t; what I had thought was bedrock turned out to be sand.
It occurs to me that this is what Lenten discipline is meant to be about. It could be about taking out a core system in our lives and seeing what happens, following the trails through day-to-day activities and thinking and functioning, about discovering whether we are founded on bedrock or sand. It would mean relinquishing control, slowing down, seeing what’s in front of us, discovering ways our lives are bound up in that thing. It also means developing a new awareness of some things and experiencing them more deeply. All of this is enlivened by an awareness of the provision of God for us, his love for us, and of our own resourcefulness in difficult circumstances.
This is a bit different than the “give up something/take on something” way we often do Lenten discipline. It’s not a bad thing to give up coffee, or chocolate, or TV during Lent and to take on another discipline. I have one friend who gives up Starbucks and donates her coffee money to ER-D, and she prays for third world relief through the season. This is a good thing.
But what if we took a view like the one expressed in the Beatitudes? “You have heard it said…but I say” says Jesus over and over again. He calls his disciples to a higher righteousness. Things like coffee or dessert or TV aren’t usually core systems in our lives. What would happen if you found a core function and gave that up? Your car…electricity…hot water…internet…telephone—or some other thing that really has a core impact on your life? What if, for example, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you didn’t use any hot water? Or what if you established a time of silence in your household from 8:30 to 11:00 pm? What would you discover about where your foundation lies? What would you learn about God’s provision and love for you? What would you discover about yourself?
- Mtr. ClayOla+