When I was growing up the season of Lent meant “giving up something”. The joke was, “I’m giving up watermelon for Lent, it’s not in season anyway.” As I’ve grown older I’ve come to view Lent not necessarily as a season of sacrifice, but one of reflection and contemplation. What emerges from reflection is something gained rather than something lost.
Spending time in a state of reflection and contemplation requires withdrawing ourselves from the world. Withdrawing from the world is not always easy. As Wayne Muller says in his Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight In our Busy Lives, “To whiz through our obligations and responsibilities without time for a single, mindful breath is the definition in our society of a successful life.” He goes on to say “telling one another ‘I’m so busy’ is said with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion was some kind of trophy.” The busier we are, the more important we must be.
Withdrawing from the world does not require a whole day or even an afternoon. It can be a Sabbath hour or a Sabbath walk. What is important is to consecrate a prescribed amount of time (20 minutes even) and draw a sacred boundary around this time. No child, work, phone call or spouse should be permitted to penetrate this boundary. This is your time to listen to yourself. You might just be surprised at how wise you are.