Lent is a complicated topic for enlightened Christians such as ourselves. At National Avenue we are made up of a rich tapestry of traditions. The views on Lent, based on past traditions and experiences coupled with current thoughts, are as varied as thesalads at a CWF luncheon.
So the idea of giving something up for Lent, or changing a habit, or denying oneself of a luxury, invites a spectrum of reactions from our membership. In fact, I think the idea of “giving something up” currently is pretty low on the spectrum. We aren’t interested in rote and mechanical actions, feeling it adds nothing to our spiritual life.
This is a valid position, but one I want to push at for a moment. A healthy life is comprised of discipline. If we want to have a healthy body, it takes discipline to eat the way we are supposed to and exercise regularly. It doesn’t always have to be meaningful, but it has to happen or there will be no results. It is reasonable that a healthy spiritual life requires discipline as well, and I propose that there can be meaning in rote actions. It is possible that meaning can come from even seemingly empty practices like giving up chocolate for forty days.
Reviewing my life, casting through my habits (ruts) and hopes (wildest dreams) is painful but useful. I have a whole list of things I could choose from to change for Lent, all things I could benefit and learn from during the discipline required to give up or change that habit. This Ted Talk (short, I promise) outlines the usefulness of taking thirty days to change a habit. If you decide to subtract or add something to your life for Lent, you get a bonus ten days to make it stick.
The habit (addiction) I’ve decided to work on during Lent contains an ironic twist. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and it sucks time from my work day like an F5 tornado. I could write a whole separate post (and maybe I will) about the issues I have with Facebook, as it goes beyond simply being a waste of my time and mental energy. But for now, suffice it to say I think my work life and creative energy would benefit from leaving Facebook off my screen for 40 days.
You’re waiting for the ironic twist, right? A couple of months ago, my friend Kate Murr posted a poem (as she often does) to Facebook. This poem resonated in my soul, and I resolved to read more poetry. So as I subtract Facebook, I will add in a poem a day. If I don’t have time to devote to a new poem, I will read the one that inspired this resolution: Celestial Music by Louise Gluck. Reading it every day for forty days would not harm a person at all. So yes, even though it was The Facebook that brought me this poem, I will bid it a fond adieu for Lent. I must. Believe me.