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Intentional Lent

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This Lent is a good time to die.


It’s a good time to lay to rest the incessant chatter of disconnected noise. This Lent, let me allow the life-sucking things to die. Let me let go of racing to read, racing to publish, racing to respond. This Lent, let there be silence. And stillness. And space.

This Lent, let’s make room for in-person conversations, in-kind acts of charity, in-time walks with one another. This Lent, let’s read something of substance, something with real depth, something that can’t be captured in 140 characters, or even 280 characters.

This Lent, let’s collect everyone’s cell phones as they come through the door — moms and dads and kids alike — and let’s look one another in the eyes for 40 days. This Lent, let’s trim the social media feed to the people who make us better, letting go of the ones who make us feel as if we’re missing out. This Lent, let’s carefully consider what we consume and hold it up against the Truth: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8).

When was the last time you stopped to evaluate all the information you absorb in a day and asked yourself “why?” Why are you allowing that source, that voice to have those moments of your day? Instead of merely scrolling, stop and consider what you’re reading. Just because a writer has something to say, doesn’t mean it should be said. Just because someone has the means to publish, doesn’t mean it should appear for all to read. Sometimes — often, I think — the best writers are the ones who don’t write and publish anything publicly until they’ve taken the time and care privately to get the message just right. Those careful words are the words worth our time and attention. And they are rare in the hurry-up culture that has overtaken the phones we carry with us everywhere and use to drug ourselves against any moment of still silence.

This year, let’s give up fast and noisy for Lent, and embrace slow and quiet. Instead of rapid-fire consumption of so many sources telling us what to think and how to do things, let’s be quiet. Listening is rare. Let’s listen for Lent.

Let’s move more slowly through the world, with our eyes up and aware and ready to see the riches right in front of us. Instead of scurrying down the rabbit hole of whatever struggle this news cycle has brought, instead of wondering what everyone else thinks we should be thinking or saying, let’s listen to the still, small voice that speaks to our souls. Let’s bring intention to our reading, our writing, even our picture-taking, and let’s let all those things awaken our senses and stir our souls instead of depleting us.

Let’s be alone enough to take note of the lessons God is teaching us uniquely, one solitary life at a time. This Lent, let’s wonder. Let’s ask God what messages He holds for us, what gifts are in our field of vision when we look up where we are, instead of peering into little squares that hold the “photoshopped” lives of someone else.

Recognize the dead things in your life. Let the dead things die. Drink deep of things that are truly life-giving.

Wake up. Look around you. What makes you come truly alive? Spend Lent learning what it takes to stagger out of the tomb of a culture-numbed stupor and truly come alive in Christ. For what were you created? Hint: the answer isn’t in your phone.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018