What I'll be doing for Lent

Over the past few years, I have had an interesting relationship to Lent. As a Unitarian Considering Christ (or, as my spiritual co-conspirator Joellynn Monahan says "Universalist Chillin' with Christ",) Lent has never been about penitence. Growing up Protestant, and even in my brief flirtation with fundamentalism in my early adulthood, I never paid attention to it - I thought it was a Catholic thing. When I went to seminary, I was surprised at how many people actually took it seriously, so I began to think about what it might mean to me.

Jesus is my savior in the sense that I believe that what he came here to teach us can save me, and us from the results of our worst natures. But I don't believe the "Jesus died for your sins, believe in him so you can go to heaven instead of hell" thing. So the need for repentance and atonement (which I know are important spiritual practices) for me have always been disconnected from the idea of Lent, that time before Easter. For me, repentance is a practice that has to happen all year long. But I have come to realize that it is actually a useful thing (skillful means, in Buddhist terms) to have a time of year where you consciously decide to dig deeper, and connect with yourself, and God/Spirit/Wisdom/{your name for the Divine here}. I love that Atonement can also look like At-one-ment - and a time for that is a good thing.

So then I have to think: "What is it that causes me to lose my way?" Those would be the things I do that I need to focus on. Some years, I take away things. One year I fasted some days during Lent. Other years I stopped doing this thing, or that thing. One year, I stopped playing video games. A couple of years ago, instead of taking things away, I added something - I endeavored (and did pretty well) to add three parts of the Daily Office (in my case, morning, midday, and evening - I used Thomas Merton's Book of Hours).

This year, it has become increasingly clear to me that the barrage of incoming electronic information, and the ways I engage and respond to it is causing me to lose my way.

So, for Lent, from February 22, through April 8th, I won't be:

  • Reading or posting on Facebook
  • Reading or posting on any other social network (Twitter, Google+, Diaspora, etc.)
  • Reading RSS feeds or Google News
  • Blogging or reading Blogs
  • Watching TV or movies on my laptop/computer/tablet/phone/etc. (no Rachel Maddow, sniff, sniff)
  • Playing video games

This is kinda radical. And I am so looking forward to it - to finding out what happens, and to carve out that space. I will be reading email, and answering my cell phone and texts, so you can still be in contact, if you wish (besides, I still need to make a living.) And I'll still be cooking, so maybe, if you're in the Bay Area, instead of "liking" a Facebook post, you'll come by for soup. :-)

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