I believe that the conversation matters. If in the attempt to realize the reign of God on earth, we cannot engage one another in respectful and grace-filled dialogue, we might as well not even try.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
This Lent, Go Take a Dump
Lent is a gift from God. God knows we need wilderness space in order to empty ourselves of unwanted skubalon, to the end of knowing God more fully. So, whatever we do during this time ought to be designed to help us know God more fully.
Now hear this: Lent is not “self-improvement season.” When we give up chocolate, (or caffeine, nicotine, television, or some other indulgence) chances are that all it will make us think about will be chocolate (or caffeine, nicotine, television, or some other indulgence). We spend these 40 days (plus a few Sundays) obsessing over how much we are missing our little habit, then on Easter morning, we dive back into it with a vengeance.
The things we do during Lent should help us know God, or we should not do them. So it is okay to give up chocolate, if that helps you to focus on God, in other words, if chocolate is your skubalon. (Read Philippians 3. The polite translations of the word in verse 8 are “rubbish” or “garbage” – what Paul actually meant was “crap.”) In order to get rid of it, it helps to go out into the wilderness and dump it. Lent is that trip to the wilderness. (Yes, you might even say that Lent is the season to take a dump in the wilderness!)
But the point is not just to dump the skubalon, the point is to see God, to know God, to love God, to follow God. I got a lot of help thinking about his from an essay/devotion written by Debra K. Farrington and excerpted on beliefnet.com. Her suggestions for Lent: Have a heart-to-heart with God. Cut back on work. Sleep enough. Give up annoyance (“…try to avoid being annoyed…” – nice!). Seek a spirit of detachment. Pursue God through study. Take care of yourself.
I love these ideas. It is so easy to be distracted by our efforts to get rid of our distractions. So much that the Lenten discipline itself becomes the focus, rather than God. This Lent, I’m going to try to dump my skubalon (tee-hee!) and focus my heart, mind, and body on God.