This year I couldn’t wait for Lent. So I started early. February 4 to be exact. I know that sounds akin to being excited about getting fired or wearing shoes two sizes too small. But last year during Lent I added a measure of silence to my life by fasting from television and radio.
It was delicious. It was like an extended beach vacation where I basked in time for thinking, reading, praying, hiking, listening, watching, writing poetry and my novel (and this blog), photography, and talking with friends and my family. And doing nothing. It was rich. The richest part was the freedom I gained.
There was no talking head or disembodied radio voice telling me what to buy or which current crisis to worry over. I was free to think my own thoughts, listen to my own music, invent my own stories. Little do we know how much ambient thought control we submit ourselves to (but that’s another blog on another day).
I didn’t go back until August when the Denver Broncos once again took the field. Around seven months. Even then I watched mainly football. I mean a guy has priorities. Fitting it was then that I again took up my mass media fast the day after the Super Bowl.
I couldn’t wait for Lent. Why wait for a good thing?
It’s been two weeks and I’ve been surprised how easy it’s been. The first day or two I reached reflexively for the knob on the dash. And I’ve not even thought of television. And that’s a little disappointing. Last year the wrestling match in my mind was brutal. The skinny guy won but the thought of giving up had me in a half-nelson a couple of times.
And out of that struggle came the insights, the learning. Now I find myself falling into other patterns. My mind has chained itself to new salve owners. Mainly thoughtlessness. Routine. Low expectations.
Therein rests the new challenge.
This feast of silence will not be one of being caught by surprise. I hope to be caught by surprise on purpose.
I’m going to use the silence to renew wonder in my life. In “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places,” Eugene H. Peterson writes that as children we “lived in a world of wonders” but that “wonder gets squeezed out of us.” He goes on to say, “wonder is deep and eternal, that we are part of a creation that is ‘very good.’”
At this point, however, I’m not sure what wonder is. Do you know? Let’s look together. I’ll let you know what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing. Maybe we can wonder together.