Lent Unplugged

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems


Time moves so quickly these days. Perhaps you’ve noticed that too. A full life is something for which to be grateful, but there are days when the number of Facebook updates and e-mails, breaking news stories and critically acclaimed shows, vital appointments and enriching opportunities can feel more like a burden then a blessing. In a world where we are more connected then ever before, a world where you can easily know more about what’s happening in India than your own home town, a world where information rains down us like, well, rain, sometimes you need to unplug in order to find yourself again.


I know that historically Lent has not been one of the Church’s most loved and anticipated traditions, but as our lives become increasingly frenetic I think Lent offers us a much needed corrective.  Lent gives us an opportunity to take stock of our busy lives and change the rhythm by learning to live in a new and different way, if only for 6 weeks. Lent has traditionally been viewed as a time of penitence and fasting, a time to slow down that we might wake up, to give up that we might give more, and to do without so that Easter, when it finally comes, will feel even more like a feast for the senses and a return to life.  In the past I might have thought of such a focus as a recipe for deprivation; but now, with all I have and all I must do, Lent seems more and more like a path to salvation.


And so I want to encourage you all to embrace this time and this age-old tradition.  Use Lent as an opportunity to consider your “one holy and precious life,” and take stock of how you are using it and of the lives of those around you.  Consider some small way you might live into this time differently, perhaps by giving something up or trying something new.  Experiment with tithing or vegetarianism. Commit to attending worship or keeping Sabbath once a week without fail.  Try turning off your computer and your smart phone for a whole day.  Take up a new prayer practice or find a new way to move by signing up for yoga, joining hand bells, or learning to dance.


I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for the full six weeks, but I do know that for one of them I’m going to be moving and unplugging in a way I never have before.  This year for my study week, instead of locking myself away with lots and lots of books and studying information, I’m going to Spain from February 25th – March 4th to study myself.  I’ll be walking the Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route that begins in the Pyrenees and ends in Santiago. Although I won’t make it to the end (the full trek takes at least a month), I’ll be out in the open air with two dear friends, unplugged and unfettered such that I’ll be able to hear myself think.  I know the trek will be challenging for my body, but I think the biggest challenge for me will be lack of internet access, and I welcome the challenge.  There is no question that I’ve become addicted to a constant flow of information about others and the world around me. On the Camino I will have to adjust to the constant flow of radio silence.  I think it’s going to drive me a little crazy, but I also think on some level that it will set me free.


And that is my wish for you as well; that Lent in some way will set you free. May you find a way to use this time well, and may God walk with you, as I pray he will walk with me, as we journey toward Easter and the promise of new life it invariably holds.


Peace for the journey, 

Pastor Sarah