Listening for Lent.

[This continues a conversation started yesterday]

“That’s a great summary,” I said. “Lent is about talking and listening to God.”

“But isn’t there more?” he asked. “Why do we always hear about Lent as a time for giving things up? When I was growing up, my friend always gave up watermelon and black licorice. Of course, there wasn’t watermelon in the winter back then, but still. I thought it was about giving stuff up.”

I smiled. It was a great question. “But isn’t talking and listening always about giving something up? In order to concentrate on conversation in the family room, don’t we have to mute the TV? Do you ever get frustrated in a conversation with a child when they keep checking their phone? Doesn’t the best brain research now suggest that we cannot multitask, we merely switch tasks?”

He looked up. He grinned and pulled his hand above the table. And laid his phone in the middle of the table. “So, for example, giving up Facebook for Lent may be just an extended version of giving up Facebook for this conversation?”

I nodded. “And when questions get deeper, I find that I need to eliminate distractions and have to work to focus. Sometimes while talking with someone I close my eyes.”

He interrupted. “Didn’t you fall asleep during a counseling session once by ‘closing your eyes to listen better’?”

I laughed. “That’s another story. Back to the challenge of focusing. When I’m listening to a traffic report on the radio, I need to have it quiet so I can turn those words into a map.”

“Okay,” he said. “So maybe the things that go into Lent–the practices giving up food or technology, the practices of prayer more often or solitude or silence, the practices of eating together, those things are clearing space in our hearts so we can listen and attend. Is that why we should celebrate Lent?”

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Lent For Non-Lent People is training wheels for Lent
Sign up to get occasional emails during Lent: Lent Mail
And Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on March 5.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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