I love these lines from a Wendell Berry poem:
Best of any song
is bird song
in the quiet, but first
you must have the quiet
This year I’m thinking of Lent as an opportunity to experience the quiet before the glorious bird song of Easter.
Last year, I took on a major Lenten discipline—I gave up spending money for Lent. Not completely, of course. We paid our bills, and I bought perishables like milk and eggs. But before Lent began I stocked up on non-perishables. During Lent, there was no browsing the sales at the grocery store. I stayed off of Craigslist and Ebay. I even avoided Michaels and Hobby Lobby for 40 days. I did not eat out. It was pretty intense—even though I did make a few exceptions to my rule. And it was good for me.
This year I am not planning anything so grandiose. Still, I want to share my Lenten commitments here so that I have some accountability. This year, I will be giving something up and taking something on.
I am giving up dessert with my lunch. I know this sounds pathetic, but I am not ready to give up dessert altogether. I’ve grown up with the mentality that every meal ends with dessert, and I hope to break this pattern during Lent.
I am taking on some de-cluttering projects at home. (I’m pretty sure my mom did this last year.) Within my congregation, our Lenten focus is on making room for God. I do realize that the idea of “making room” is intended metaphorically. Still, when my physical space is cluttered, I feel more stressed and therefore less attuned to God’s presence. The idea is to organize one small area of the house each week during Lent.
I promise not to bore you over the next 40 days with a detailed confession of my diet or a list of each paper that I put in the recycling bin. But I will give brief updates from time to time—just to keep myself on track. And you are welcome to post your Lenten commitments in the comments below—or link to your blog if you discuss them there. I’ll keep you in my prayers during the coming weeks.
I guess I’m not feeling too ambitious this Lenten season. And that’s O.K. It is good for me to remember that Lent is not about achieving some new level of spiritual status. Even giving up or taking on small things can re-orient my spirit toward God.
Perhaps skipping that one cookie each day, having a little less clutter in my living space, will be just what I need to create space. Perhaps these disciplines will cut through some of life’s noise and help me enter into the necessary quiet.