During the last 60,480 minutes I’ve missed a few things. That’s 1,008 hours for those of you not handy with math. Forty-two days. That’s how long I gave up TV and radio for Lent. Now several days after Easter, the day Lenten fast’s finish, I’m wondering if I really missed anything.
Sure, news happened, even important news. But did I really miss anything?
Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign. Newsman Mike Wallace, banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs, and painter Thomas Kincade all passed. These were great losses. Looming less large, so did Scottish champion darts player, Jocky Wilson and probowler LaVerne Carter.
Also during Lent, Madonna was banned from a talk show, Lindsay Lohan was released from probation and given a warning by a judge, and Ninjas attacked a medical marijuana delivery man.
Depending on your point of view, I may or may not have missed anything.
Sacrifice is always dangerous. It’s an act of release, opening oneself up, vulnerability. When you give something up or away, you always stand the chance of ending up empty-handed or, worse, hurt. That’s also why sacrifice is powerful.
But often in taking a risk, we discover that our sacrifice also makes room in life for something new. That’s why, in my opinion, I don’t think I missed anything in my self-imposed media ban.
My daily thoughts have not been held captive by the commercially driven yammering of some talking head or disembodied voice. I’ve not spent one moment worrying about who the next President of the U.S. might be (though I will inform myself and vote), whether it might rain on my parade that day or not, or what the insane governments in Iran and North Korea might do.
My mind has been free to notice life and people near and around me. I’ve taken more pictures, seen spring fight off the blandness of winter, and my voice memo function on my iPhone is full of ideas for sermons, books, articles, and blogs. I’ve rediscovered music. I feel wildly creative. I started writing poetry again. And I’m partnering with gifted musician, Cliff Hutchison, in writing song lyrics. I’ve prayed for my friends and family more consistently as God brings their names and faces to mind in the absence of media noise.
I simply don’t feel as rushed. Standing in my living room as night closes down the day, I’ve often asked myself what I should do next. It’s a wonderful, languid feeling. Usually I’d be vegging in front of the TV. I’ve taken longer walks with Dee Dee, my wife, and had spontaneous conversations with her. Gone to bed earlier. I have time to write my novel and I’ve read around seven books. Leif Enger’s novel “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” gets better each time I read it. I’ve journaled almost everyday of 2012.
It’s not been all sweetness and light, however. This Lenten silence has allowed me to recognize who I am and who I’m not. I, maybe like you, am a pretty flawed person. The noise of TV and radio often allowed me to cover that fact. My journals are just as full of inanities, complaints, and judgements as they are prayers, poems, and pretty prose. And some things have only shifted. Instead of carrying on an imaginary debate with some TV commentator, I now do so with a Facebook friend. Argh.
The ancient but honest theologian and philosopher, Paul of Tarsus, expressed it this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Lent’s Over. Now What?
Still I’m not willing to give the reins of even my messy life back to some advertising executive pulling levers behind a curtain. Monday I watched, or rather slept through, the Colorado Rockies’ home opener. But, I’m not going back. Yet. I’ve gained too much to gorge myself on media again. The silence has been exceedingly rich and I’ve seen living spiritually–for me–cannot happen in a world dominated by media noise.
After 60,480 minutes I’ve found I missed nothing. Rather I gained–even if the most disconcerting as well as comforting truth is that I cannot live spiritually, become a better person, on my own. I must agree with Paul again. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Eugene C. Scott loves listening to the blues, which has nothing to do with this blog, but is worth saying anyway. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.