A few years ago I reassessed my practice of Lent, looking at the way I chose my Lenten fasts. Lent is a season of inward reflection, preparing for transformation when we allow less of ourselves and more of Christ to shape our lives and our actions. So when I choose a Lenten fast or faith practice to explore during this season, I first ask myself the question: “what will help me become a better follower of Christ?”
In doing this, I become primed to identify ways in which how I spend my time/resources/energy prevent me from living abundantly toward Christ, others, and myself, and practices that will help me re-center and ground myself in a life that puts Jesus and others first.
This year, the thing that is most preventing me from living abundantly is background noise. I’ve had a long-standing practice of putting on a Netflix show as background noise when I get home. I play a favorite show while I cook dinner, clean the kitchen and tidy up the living room. When I deep clean the bathroom, I will play an audiobook. I will often fall asleep to audiobooks I’ve listened to all the way through. The adult equivalent of being read to sleep, I suppose.
Background noise is easier than engaging my mind in one more thing after a long day of work. It feels like motivation; like a reward for doing my housework and schoolwork, but it’s not. I wonder how my life, my approach to my own life and the way I engage with the world around me would be different if the reward were in the process itself.
What might it look like to be mindful and fully present as I cook a meal – savoring each ingredient, thanking it for its participation in the life cycle – instead of taking breaks to engage in all the drama that is Grey’s Anatomy?
What might it look like to clean my home in meditative silence – experiencing the aroma of herbs and flowers in the non toxic cleaners I use – listening for the still, small voice of God in the snap of clean laundry being prepared to fold and finding peace in the hum of the vacuum? What might it look like to hear the scrub of the brush against the tile walls and find there a contemplative rhythm for life?
What might it look like to eat dinner across from Andrew at our table, with the tablecloth my sister gave me with the little Brazilian sailboats and fishing ports, phones out of reach and TV off; savoring the complex flavors of a home-cooked meal from the earth’s bounty?
What might it look like to wind down the day with writing, emptying my mind and making space for new ideas and thoughts, new dreams; allowing my mind to acknowledge that it is time to rest, and to gently churn into sleepytown without assistance from Audible?
These are the questions I will be asking myself these 40 days leading to resurrection, while fasting from background noise. I suspect that I will find in this fast from background noise, a healing lull that brings abiding peace and a restoration of balance and rhythm.
How will you follow Jesus into this journey of Lent?