"It's a difficult business, being human." --Wendell Berry
think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to
bring peace, but a sword." --Matthew 10:34
"Perhaps we are more
attentive when life is hard." --Jean Blomquist
In a blog posting a few weeks ago, I
expressed the desire to live a focused life, a life attuned to the
presence of God in and through all things. I concluded that posting by
suggesting the possibility of "fasting" from electronics for a day as a
way to limit distractions and regain focus on things that matter to me.
Well, as many of you know, I went for it.
During the season
of Lent, our family is practicing what we are calling "Digital-Free" or
"Technology-Free" Fridays. Friday is my day off each week, and on this
day we do not turn on the computer or TV or iPod or DVD player. We turn
off the cell phones. We are fasting from all of these digital devices,
consciously making an effort to not let them distract us. But here's the
key...we're doing it not just as a practice of self-denial, but so that
we can focus on what matters more deeply to us--time together as a
family, relationships, listening, paying attention.
It's been harder than I ever thought it would be. For goodness
sakes, it's just one day a week! But countless times that day, I get a
little twitchy, wanting to turn on the computer and check email,
Facebook, and the like. In the mornings, I find myself--without
thinking--moving to flick on the TV and stick my kids in front of it so I
can read the paper in peace. (Coming to an awareness of how impulsively
I do that to my children really hits hard.) I look at that cell phone
and feel a little flutter of anxiety--who has needed me and can't reach
me? I go out for a walk or a bike ride and I feel out of sorts without
my iPod in my ears to occupy me. Allison and I often end the day
watching something on a Netflix DVD--but not on digital free Fridays.
And it throws us off a little.
We humans are such distract-able creatures, so prone to routines and
habits. Sometimes it takes a little "holy disruption" to help us
clearly identify where we crowd out space and time for God, for family,
for ourselves--including our own thoughts and feelings. I think Jesus is
this kind of "holy disruption" in the lives of those who encounter him.
His way of being and speaking knocks things off-kilter, forcing us to
see things from a new angle. For some of us, it's annoying. For others,
it's liberating. For the rest of us, it's a little of both!
So, even though it's just one day a week, these "digital free
Fridays" have been extremely illuminating. Because it has been harder
than I anticipated, I am noticing things I wouldn't have otherwise. God
has shown me how distract-able I really am. But God has also helped me
glimpse what it's like to be a little less distracted. We've experienced
more time paying attention to each other as a family, intentionally, on
these Fridays. I've had the blessed discovery (hardly earth shattering)
that the world does not fall apart while I am away from my email and
the cell phone is turned off. Talk about getting put in your place!
What I feel called to next is to take into the rest of the year what
I am experiencing and learning during this Lenten fast. The danger is
that I will too easily fall back into past patterns of behavior. So,
while we are still in Lent, I'm already thinking what happens after
Easter. New life, I hope--a life lived a little more fully, more
attentive to God and to those around me.
What about you? What "holy disruption" might help you see your life
in a new way?
Blessings on your week,
Gracious God, thank you for those "holy disruptions" in our lives which
reveal to us new opportunities to love you and reach out to those
around us. Amen.