On Giving Up And Bringing Back

It is Monday. The rhythm of my week is such that Monday often brings a welcome respite of a whirlwind of activity. Many of us who lean into Sunday as the highlight of of our work week find Monday as a necessary day of rest and recovery, not only of physical energy but (even more so) of mental and emotional rejuvenation.

However, my schedule has been such that I couldn’t take Mondays off. There’s too much to do to prepare for the week. This afternoon I have a meeting scheduled.
But I gave myself permission this morning to escape the massive amount of pressure looming around my personal and workplace responsibilities. It’s been a quiet day at home, with a few work-related things tended to, but mostly just being here. I was here to braid my daughter’s hair and talk about…well, stuff. I was here to get dinner started in the crock pot. I was here to talk to my mom on the phone without feeling rushed. I was here to listen to a recording of my brother’s most recent talk at his church, and to find out that he just finished an application to begin seminary studies (that’s me you see, the big sister beaming with pride.)
I’ve been thinking about Lent, and about how little my life changes to observe this season of sacrifice. I cling to the writings of those who practice Lent, but it’s from afar. It’s not internal. I just watch. I don’t think you get credit for voyeuristic Lenten sacrifice.
So I’ve wrestled with the notion of “giving up” something – chocolate? The internet? Caffeine? Soda?
I decided on none of those things, because, to be honest, my heart is not in it. I would be engaging in the practice simply to keep up appearances. As necessary as it is to cleanse my soul of some things and to make a sacrifice, the frenetic reality of my current circumstances makes “giving up something for Lent” simply another thing to check off on my to-do list. And I am convinced that to offer sacrifice like that renders it pretty much worthless.
But this morning, I balanced these thoughts with something definitive and specific, an action that I took in order to observe the brilliant opportunity of the day and the utter luxury of the time and space around me.
I held to my own time apart. I stayed home, spoke with my daughter. Fixed a meal for my family.
And I was quiet. I turned off all electronics and sat on the couch. When the rain began, I heard it and I noticed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I fell asleep for a short time.
But somehow, I think that this quiet is exactly what my Sabbath ought to look like.