Tag Archives: lent

Deliberate silence

Fasting isn’t giving up unhealthy stuff. It is giving up unhealthy dependence on stuff.

We talk about all the noise that is part of our lives. Not just audible noise, mind you, but the sheer volume of sights and smells and touches and tastes in our lives.

Even without the intentions of those trying to sell something there are constant noises around us, the presence and traces of those we love (and those we don’t). Add to those noises the stream of images and sounds and taste choices of those seeking our attention, those involved in deliberate unsilence.

Lest you wonder whether that last sentence was a criticism of advertisers and marketers and public relaters, I’ll remove your doubt.

Yes, it was.

Including me.

I am involved regularly in deliberate unsilence. Every day I am generating words and thought images and stories and photos with the intention of disrupting silence. And so are you.

But at 6:30am on Ash Wednesday, in a quiet house, I can choose to be silent, or not. I can choose to have noise, or not. I can decide to look at the stream of images and words, or not.

I can decide whether there is an unhealthy dependence, or not.


habits of sight

A week ago, I was playing pool with a friend (first time I’ve played in years, Nancy was around too, that’s not the habit.)  Sometime during the second game, I watched him line up a shot and then miss the ball he should have been aiming for. I almost said something, until I realized that he hadn’t missed.

I’ll be more accurate. The ball I thought he should be aiming for was a stripe. The ball he hit was a solid. But he was solids, I was stripes. I had become so focused on my goals that I forgot that for the purposes of this game, his goal was the exact opposite of mine. And rightly so.

It had only taken 20 minutes for a way of looking at things to become habitual for me. Enough of a habit that I was ready to scold someone else for looking at things differently.

Some habits are desirable. We call those “disciplines.” Some habits are not. We call those “addictions.” Some are neutral. We call those “drinking coffee.” For the last six weeks I gave up a way of seeing called twitter. Someone finally caught on yesterday that the dates of my disappearance roughly corresponded to lent (with one lapse at chipotle).

When Lent started, I hadn’t exactly intended to give it up. However, I was beginning to wonder whether twitter was a discipline (staying in touch with a group of people that I was beginning to care about and for) or an addiction (staring at the flow of comments in every spare moment) or neutral (stopping to say hi while walking to the office coffee pot). And so around the time that we began our lent blog in earnest, I walked away from twitter.

Here are some of the things I learned.

1. I still knew a bit about what was happening because Nancy kept checking. She would ask whether I had seen what had happened to ___ or ___. She kept up.  That means that twitter has a way of becoming part of the family. The people I follow? Our kids know you. And that’s kind of cool.

2. Twitter may be an addiction, but the people aren’t. A friend of mine goes to Mr Donut every morning. If he gave up donuts for Lent, he still would want to figure out how to go to see the people. When the channel slides into being addicting, somehow we need to manage that aspect of it without giving up people. I had every intention of touching people by email, but I didn’t.

3. I may have gained time, but I’m not sure I used it well. By well, of course, I’m not arguing for greater work productivity because that isn’t the point of lenten fasting. The point is to use the space for silence, for reflection, for self-examination, for becoming more focused. Jesus gave up people for forty days and spent much of the time talking with his Dad. And his enemy, of course. And that is offered as our model.

4. As a result of 3, what I did realize is that twitter isn’t the enemy, I am. Not in an “I am awful, I am the worst” sense. More in the “balance your expectations and your workflow and your goals and your energy so that staring at twitter doesn’t become the escape of choice.” The truth? I can make staring blindly into space become my escape of choice, my way of avoiding buckling down to work or to not work.

5.  I’m also aware that I can best serve my friends and family if I build a pattern of away and here that functions on a daily and weekly flow rather than an annual flow. Some may remember that last year I dropped out of the blogosphere for a couple weeks at about this same time (I didn’t remember that timing until a couple days ago). I’m thinking that there are some things I need to write about and research which will be useful to others. If I take bits of time and go silent I can come back refreshed AND refreshing.

6. I had some people touching me from time to time. That was pretty cool. Thank you.

7. I walked away from a lot of online interaction during this time. The energy to comment was down. The energy to post was limited (though pretty focused). I managed Lent 2008, but ended up not commenting much there. I haven’t completely figured this one out yet (I know…new job, new responsibilities, new faces, I get that part) but I think there is something else and deeper.
And so I’m back to twitter. We’ll see how long I can keep stripes and solids distinct, keeping my way of seeing clear without getting confused.

next steps

I’ve spent Lent as a fairly quiet part of a community over at Lent 2008.  It has been a wonderful time. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow, I think.

For today, however, for Easter,  I’ll just send you over there, since I couldn’t do any better on this morning than my friend Rob (who I am convinced exists, though I have never seen him or touched him. And Chris, whom I have seen, confirms his existence).

Accepting new life requires us to change our perspective. Just as when we welcome a child and shift our roles from wife to mother, husband to father, so must we shift to accept the risen Christ in our lives. He is different than the one who walked among us. Something has been fulfilled. So, what will it be? How will you accept this new life? How will you receive it? Do you need to pinch yourself….or put your hands in His side? Will you accept that you have been called to be different?

Read the rest of the post here.

And, as they say, xristos anesti.

On fog and clarity and lent

Here in Northern Indiana, we’ve had a lot of fog during the past two days. The meteorological explanation is that we had snow and then the temperature rose and the melting snow becomes a ground level cloud. There was enough ground level cloud yesterday that many districts around us canceled classes.

Somehow, however, it seems that the fog in the atmosphere isn’t the only fog.

Today is the first official day of writing over at lent2008.wordpress.com. I had committed to start the writing in this group writing project, but I couldn’t find anything profound floating around in my brain.

So here’s where I started:

Today is supposed to be a day of great clarity. By this morning we were supposed to know who THE candidates for president are. We were supposed to have decided who the best football team ever is. We were supposed to know just how spiritual we are.It’s Ash Wednesday, and historically, those who have ash on their heads know that they are God’s servants in the face of ridicule, and those who don’t have ash on their heads know that they are God’s servants in the face of centuries of confusion.

As usual, however, what is running through my head this morning is a significant lack of clarity in the face of all of the tendency toward confusion. While candidates were talking to their supporters, tornadoes were killing at least 27 people. All the money spent on the campaigning would go far to help the people who are dealing with destruction and pain, but the money can’t bring back lives.

For the rest of that post and to read more about what we are doing for Lent, head over to lent2008.wordpress.com.

As you read what is coming from the heads and hearts of my seven co-writers, i think you’ll enjoy this lenten season more than you ever have (and I fully understand the irony of that statement. That’s why I wrote it.)


How many posts will there be this week about the Super Bowl and about Super Tuesday? I heard someone on Saturday (yesterday) talking about having a Super Saturday, playing off from the hype. And on one level, the two events – the game and the primaries – are significant. If significance is measured by money spent or media attention, then these two days are absolutely huge.

But what if you aren’t a superlatives kind of person? What if you are the kind of person who, when asked you you are doing, answers “fine”–and you aren’t trying to avoid truth-telling or masking feelings? What if your honest condition is fine?

Some of us are hesitant to commit to being great or wonderful or super, at least when someone asks how we are doing. We look with suspicion at the people who are “great” and then “lousy” and then “couldn’t be better” and then “this is the worst day”. How can anyone live life with that much, well, instability? Better, we think, to be a nice steady melancholy or calm or subdued or steady than constantly echoing Dickens (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”).

And yet, maybe life lived at an arm’s length isn’t always best. Maybe there is a place for, like two teams today, like a handful of candidates on Tuesday, jumping in completely.  Not everyone has the same level of emtional expression. Some people really are reserved, really don’t express happiness by bouncing around the room. But for each of us there is the capacity to be all in, to in accord with our personality, to commit.

We’re a month into the year. The groundhog has spoken. Lent is at hand. Now is a great time to decide that today, this week, this month, the next 4 minutes are worth living intentionally.

You in?

Better together

I spent Advent blogging in two places, here and over at advent2007.wordpress.com. Over there I was creating a blogged advent calendar. It was an interesting adventure in daily blogging.

At the end of that time I reserved lent2008.wordpress.com. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I figured that it would be a good project.

Then one morning, I realized that I needed to make it a group project. As a result, there are 8 contributors who are signed on to write for the Lenten season. Although Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, February 6, the first of the posts is up today.

As people responded to the invitation, their hearts were pretty open:

I am interested. Willing. And scared. But fear is fleeting. And obedience … obedience is better than sacrifice. You obeyed the calling to do this in community, so I’ll answer the call too.

Well, it sure beats coming up with stuff for my own site, I’m in.
Thank you for hearing this call and for being so brave as to invite me

This is a little scary to me, but I would like to ask the Lord to teach me through this opportunity and to share His answer to that prayer with others–count me in.

I am honored and humbled to be included in this holy mess. I was going
to give up writing for lent. Thanks for screwing that up Jon! But,
hey, if God says “Kill and Eat!” who am I to say it’s unclean?
I pray, and beg, and fully expect that we will draw things out of one
another we didn’t recognize in ourselves. And as we stumble around,
expectantly looking for the right words, that we may encounter The
Word, find Our Way, and discover Truth and Life.

May we be broken to be given.

What has been happening already in the email conversation is that these writers are already helping each other rethink the traditional “giving up” approach to Lent. There is a shift happening from giving up to offering up, from giving up to acting. It is a wonderful thing to watch.

We’ll be posting a couple times a week between now and Ash Wednesday. At that point, we’ll start writing daily. We aren’t sure where were going, but wherever it is, we’ll get there together.


Thanks to Rob Hatch, Thomas Knoll, Anna Lenardson, Laurie Nichols, Connie Reece, Tom Swank, and Amy Van Huisen, spread from Maine to Texas to Minnesota, for being willing to live out here.

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