Adopting a spiritual practice from a tradition not your own is always a delicate matter. Lent was a part of my growing up because so many of my neighbors, teachers, and friends were Catholic, but I’m not Christian myself and so I would not describe myself as “observing Lent.” Also, knowing my oh-so-American attraction to self-improvement, I’m aware of the subtle misuse of the practice: “Try this for forty days and your life will be changed!” As if it were a new, sure-fire, forty-day diet.
Nevertheless, Lent appeals to me because of its teaching that sacrifice and discipline are part of how we grow closer to the holy; because of its invitation to walk a little way with Jesus, who is one of my heroes, and its reference to his suffering and doubt, in other words his being genuinely human; because of its echoes of the forty years’ wandering of the Israelites and the story of Jonah, one of my favorites in the Bible. And because it is a sound and useful practice. So here are my three disciplines for this period:
(1) Go on a Facebook fast. No checking in for the next 40 days (or 46, since I don’t plan to excuse myself on Sundays). We are only a day into Lent and I’ve had the mindless impulse to see what’s happening on FB at least a dozen times. Can I make each of those moments of impulse and turning away from the impulse a meditation on the question: how do I want to spend the next half hour of this wild and precious life?
(2) Draw for ten minutes every day. Again, Sundays not excepted. This is about both discipline and discovering, again and again, per the name of this blog, the sacred in everything.
(3) Give to charity (or better, give to justice!). I was thinking of making this a daily practice, but I think I’m pushing my limits on daily practices already, so I’m just going to give, in one lump, to a cause that’s been speaking to my heart: the end of human trafficking. I’m still researching which organizations are most effective.