Today is a good day.
I haven’t touched on Lent yet this year, not because I am not observing, but out of my attempt to reflect the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 6:16 – “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.” Not that blogging about Lent is hypocritical at all, I just wanted to do things on my own first and talk about it later.
Lent is a period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving leading up to Easter. Most people associate it with Catholics skipping hamburgers in favor of fish fries on Fridays and holding off on the donuts. But it is more than that. It is a time of peaceful reflection, of self-denial in favor of something greater.This year I gave up two things for Lent. Not because I am some holier-than-thou look how good I can do perosn, but because I kept wavering back and forth on which I should give up (trying to figure out which was “easier”) and figured I should stop being such a baby and give them both up.
The first was not buying food on campus. I did this my senior year in college, (which my roommate thought was pretty much the dumbest thing she ever heard!) and it was actually really tough for me. I will admit, I’ve broken this more than once. I had gotten in a habit of relying on vending machines and the market store in the University Center for lunch (typically a fresh roll, babybel cheese, and a pear). Not buying food on campus meant I had to either a) plan ahead, or b) go without. The money I saved will go to a charity – either our church’s sister parish in Colombia, or Partners in Health.
The second wasmultitasking. Yup, I gave up multitasking for Lent. I actually decided I should do this last year, but then in preparation for Lent I started cutting back in the weeks before. So when Lent rolled around I decided I didn’t really “need” to do it, but then I realized it was just me chickening out.
So what do I mean by multitasking?
– no listening to music or talking on the phone while driving/walking to or from school
– no reading on e-mails/blogs/news/magazines while watching TV
– no listening to podcasts/music while doing dishes or cleaning
– no watching TV/reading/playing on computer while eating
– no watching TV while cooking
I will admit that I broke all of these. A couple times I put on classical or Christian music so that I would stop going crazy and just finish the damn dishes. My rule was if someone else initiated (like called me while I walked home or if John turned on the TV) I was going to just go with it. Which meant I still ended up doing these things pretty regularly, though way less than I had before.
The hardest was not doing something wile eating. I had anticipated hours of quiet meditation over my meals – savoring every bite, being truly present to what I ate. In reality, I would scarf down my food because it was boring to just sit there and eat. It made me realize how loud the command in my brain to “DO SOMETHING!” is.
My goal with giving up multitasking was to create more quiet in my life, more time for reflection, more peace. To stop being bombarded with noise, news, information, entertainment all the time. To create more time to listen to God speak.
Did I achieve this goal? Yes and no. I have more quiet and I do feel calmer overall. But I don’t think I have conquered the “BE PRODUCTIVE! DO!” voice in my head. In a way, I almost feel anxious when I’m not “maximizing” my time, even though in reality multitasking helps no one. I don’t think I carved out the hours for quiet prayer that I wanted to, but I still think there is value in the silence and in focusing. It was a hard thing to give up, even if I caved in a lot. I hope that even when Easter comes and I am “released” from my fasting obligations, I will tone down the multi-tasking and focus more.
How did your Lent go? What are you doing these last few days to prepare for Easter?