Leant time

A bit of peace and quiet (image taken in Vatersay)

A bit of peace and quiet (image taken in Vatersay)

Thanks for lending me your time. Somehow sounds nicer than being on borrowed time doesn’t it? Also thanks for lending me your patience as the title of this post is a rather weak pun. For you have leant time which I will use to discuss Lent time.

My particular presbyterian upbringing didn’t feature Lent heavily, although a North American parent meant pancakes did feature heavily. They’re one of the first things I learned to make. I take pride in the fact I never measure anything when making pancakes. This hubris also means that every cooking venture is an oddesy of discovery as the consistency changes. Inconsistent consistency. Sounds like it could be a branch of theology…

Theology, yes that’s what we were talking about (or I’m talking about, thanks again for your time). Lent! I’ve only been ‘Ashed’ once at an ecumenical service but I found the cross of ash on the forehead a moving experience.

My impression living in England is that Lent is a bigger deal here (both religiously and secularly) than in Scotland. Perhaps cause we Scots go in for enough self-denial and privation on a daily basis. We’re just that thrawn 🙂 (Has the word Thrawn ever been combined with a smiley face before? Ever? Have we just witnessed something new, strange and terrifying?)

So I didn’t grow up regularly giving up or taking up things for Lent. When it started edging on my consciousness in an emergent kinda way I would sometimes feel a pang of belated guilt a few days into Lent as some of my contemporaries started their disciplines. I would try and work out in retrospect what I could give up based on what I had not already done. It strikes me that this faintly ridiculous approach was probably the one taken by some of our forefathers (our foremothers being deprived of the rights and too sensible anyway) when they were devising laws. What’s against the law? Well I haven’t broken the law so not anything I’ve done…

But this year I have decided to take a discipline and use the Lent time leant me to reflect. As well as giving up plastic bags (if you ain’t for life, don’t give me strife), a good general practice, I am going to give up noise for ten minutes every day. I particularly like the formulation of giving up noise rather than taking up silence. My wife suggested ‘giving up noise.’

When I lived on an intentional community we had some silent retreat days. I found it very difficult. Being quiet on my own is not hard, but sharing common spaces and meal times with others while staying silent is tough psychologically. A comfortable sitting in silence with others is lovely but a deliberate silence where we fast from interacting, from eye contact, from acknowledging is oppressive. I’m sure it can be worthwhile, for everything a season.

I have decided this Lent I don’t want to fill myself with silence but instead to empty myself of noise. I am going to sit or lie down quietly for ten minutes and give up noise and distraction. Silence can fill your head with white noise, with static and be uncomfortable. I want to stretch myself but not hurt myself.

It’s time for me to lend my time. Thanks for lending yours.


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