Thursday, March 27, 2014
Simpler Living: A Different Lenten Discipline
Lent is a season when we think about giving up things, not to punish ourselves, but to deepen our relationship to God. The underlying idea here is that it is pretty easy for our appetites to get out of whack—for habits to become addictions—and I think all of us would acknowledge that addictions, of whatever sort, tend to point us away from God.
Our culture now widely acknowledges that many of us have become addicted to our electronics. We text or email or tweet multiple times a day. We are on our cell phones whenever we have a moment of “down” time. We spend hours consuming websites, TV shows, YouTube videos, on screens large and small. In moderation, none of this is bad, but, all too often, what starts as a reasonable amount of time becomes excessive. Can God speak through our electronics, through a medium that is thoroughly of our own making? I suppose so but I tend to think that S/He is more likely to communicate with us through a medium that is only partly human-made, that is, the world around us.
So here are a couple of suggestions. Take one walk a week and leave all the electronics at home (including cell phones). Work with your partner, family or just yourself to ban electronics from the dinner table. And, if you are feeling really ambitious, try a cyber-Sabbath—putting aside one day a week (why not Sunday?) when you have no screen-time at all. Why not start this Lent (there are only a couple of weeks left anyways!)? This discipline should help us keep things in balance and, even more important, create time and space to hear that “small, still voice” which is always trying to connect.