One week notice

I had an Ash Wednesday scare the other day.

I missed mid-week worship with my Episcopalian friends. A couple days later, it occurred to me that I had no idea when Lent starts this year and no mechanism in my life that would automatically alert me other than the mid-week worship that I had just missed. So for all I knew, I was already several days into Lent without having noticed.

It was a false alarm: Lent starts next Wednesday. Which means you can give up chocolate for Lent and still enjoy Valentine's Day, and that we've got a week left to consider whether and how to observe the season.

In addition to my observations from last year, here are a couple more ideas for your consideration:

Living Water International and Lifewater International both have Lenten resources that invite us to use this season to act in solidarity with the one billion human beings without access to clean water. I like the idea of a fast from beverages other than water, although, as my pastor and I both noted, it's not going to happen for us without a coffee dispensation.

I noted last year the popularity of the Web 2.0 fast (i.e., social networking platforms of various sorts). Some of my friends went on a complete web fast, or a complete web fast with Sundays off; some fasted from social networking sites like facebook, but not Web 1.0 (not-so-interactive information and entertainment venues). One friend reported what struck me as a novel twist: he fasted from Web 1.0 but not Web 2.0. That is, he continued to use facebook and read his friends' blogs, because he considered it an important part of maintaining relationships, but he avoided other web-surfing. I like the way that he thought about the place of the internet in his life and what various types of online activity meant to him and tailored his chosen discipline accordingly.

I don't think I mentioned last year, but I found this practice fruitful enough that I observed it for several years in a row: I gave up fasting for Lent. Which is to say, I made it my discipline not to skip meals. When a person routinely skips meals out of busyness or laziness or misguided efforts to lose weight, the invitation to fast can be a spiritualized excuse for an existing bad habit. It seemed better, to me, to eat mindfully rather than not to eat -- to practice the discipline of self-care, of having enough foresight to plan ahead and pack a lunch or at least carve out enough time and set aside the money to go get a meal and not just another cup of coffee.

(The first time I did this, the dining hall employees at my school went on strike the second week of Lent. I was miserable at complying with my chosen discipline that year.)

Me, I'm doing my music thing again, having found the practice valuable but my resolution spotty last year. Since it helps to be specific in defining one's goals, here is what I intend: for six and a half weeks, I will listen to at least 30 minutes/one album's worth of music -- any music -- every day, preferably before dinner (lest I end up staying up past my bedtime to fulfill my resolution). Sundays are not excluded, because listening to music is an especially suitable activity for a feast day.


The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

I love Episcopaleans--an Ash Wednesday scare, that's lovely.

I'm so glad you wrote this bcs now I have some time to mindfully consider my own discipline. I think I might carve out space for intentional indulgence in peace and beauty each day. My soul gets starved too easily.

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