The second most visited post on this blog is one I wrote about Lent in 2011: 33 things to give up for Lent. All year long people have come to this post by searching for Lent. Which is interesting, since Lent is a period of forty days (plus 6 Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It doesn’t last all year.
Several years ago, some friends and I wrote about Lent. When I started that blog, I said
What I’m seeing is posts from you which would wrestle with what we learn when we give up that which we enjoy for the sake of better understanding that in which we delight. Not all of us are from a liturgical background. That’s the point. I want to have some wrestling with lent, with fasting, with self-denial as self-discovery, with the relationships between forms and faith and relationship.
For 2012, I decided to gather some of the posts I’ve written about Lent and fasting. I also decided to post it 10 days before Ash Wednesday in case you want to plan ahead.
And so you know, in 2012 Ash Wednesday is February 22 and Easter is April 8.
Some comments on fasting from Matthew 6
Some comments about silence
- Deliberate silence – Excerpt: “I am involved regularly in deliberate unsilence. Every day I am generating words and thought images and stories and photos with the intention of disrupting silence. And so are you.”
- habits of sight. – Excerpt: “Some habits are desirable. We call those “disciplines.” Some habits are not. We call those “addictions.” Some are neutral. We call those “drinking coffee.” For the last six weeks I gave up a way of seeing called twitter. When Lent started, I hadn’t exactly intended to give it up. However, I was beginning to wonder whether Twitter was a discipline (staying in touch with a group of people that I was beginning to care about and for) or an addiction (staring at the flow of comments in every spare moment) or neutral (stopping to say ‘hi’ while walking to the office coffee pot).”
- listen – Excerpt: “I discovered that I use noise. I discovered that when I drive and start talking with God, I finish a couple sentences and reach for the radio. I didn’t realize how often I do that until I watched my hand reach for the radio that no longer was there.”
- 8 ways to get better at following, part 2 – Excerpt: “Most of us have heard about sabbaticals. A sabbatical is a break from something. It could be taking a day each week with electronic devices turned off or six months away from work. The idea of sabbatical is rooted in the idea of sabbath.”
Some comments about Sabbath
I know that Sabbath seems like the opposite of Lent. It’s time to eat and rest, where Lent seems to be about suffering. But for many of us, truly taking time off, giving up the franticness for family and feasting and frivolity and fellowship, would be its own kind of fast.
- Our sabbath group – Excerpt: We started a couple years ago. Just for six weeks. Now we can’t stop. It’s not complicated, by the way. It starts with “you hungry? For supper and God?” And goes from there.
- Burdens and breakfast – Excerpt: “These were people who weren’t just tired. They were tired from living up to expectations. They were tired from having to look over their shoulder, expecting pastors to pester them, expecting Pharisees to flog them. Every step was a burden. And Jesus says, “try my yoke”.
- A question of stopping – Excerpt: “Late at night, when being driven by the list, rest seems desirable, but out of reach. In the morning, when being driven by the list, rest seems long gone. In the middle of the day, between the calls and the visits and the ambiguity and the precisely-phrased demands, rest seems impossible.”
- On rests – Excerpt: “I used to play tuba. As such, there were often long stretches of music pieces we played during which I didn’t play. We would spend these times counting very carefully (1-2-3-4, 2-2-3-4, 3-2-3-4 and so on). It was stressful at times because you had to make sure you entered at the right place.”
- Time is hard to take – Excerpt: “Ironically, it is easier to confess to you my inability to stop than it is to just stop. Is it possible that there is in the confession a desire to receive compassion, empathy, understanding…from you? I mean, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You are, as I am, a part of a culture which, whether inside or outside church, finds stopping difficult. We feel as though we must be productive in our work, in our rest, in our play, in our wasting of time. If we can’t do something, we must at least create the facade of busyness.”