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Lent

(Percy Sledge Agbunag Carballo, Creative Commons)

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I really enjoy the season of Lent.  It’s a season of introspection and reflection on our mortality.  A time for lament, a time for cleansing, a time for repentance (“repentance” means “change the way you think”).  It’s full of all the existential and high-church sacramental stuff that really resonates with me.  A common perception of Lent is that people give up something they like (chocolate, booze, swearing, coffee), piss and moan about it, and cheat after a week or two.  But fasting is meant to be less about giving something up than it is to be about pausing and making room.  Opening up liminal space in us, cutting out the noise.  That’s what I’m going after for the next 40 days.

This year, for Lent, I’m taking a social media hiatus.  I’m also going to pull way back from reading the news.  I can’t make room for introspection and growth without putting a cork in the constant barrage of information.  I want to be present in this season, and take it slow.

As with any sacramental season, it’s best to have a guide or a plan, both to keep you on pace and help you focus.  This year I have two.  The first is Peter Rollins’s Atheism for Lent course, which engages the work of several different atheists, with the idea of letting it critique me and reveal what I actually believe.  It also explores how atheism and theism aren’t mortal enemies, but “entangled in the most passionate of love affairs,” as he puts it (he’s Irish).  The other is the daily devotional #reLENTless (combined with #LentLite), put together by the same people that did the #fuckthisshit Advent devotional (which I absolutely loved).  They take such a real, visceral, human approach to things, and it hits me on a deep level.  I may also follow #WhitenessHistoryMonth, which is in the same stream of leaning into critique.

I will be writing some reflections and musings here every Saturday, as well as interacting on the Atheism for Lent Facebook page, but besides that everything else will go silent for the next 40 days.

So I’d encourage you, too, Christian or not, to take time these next 40 days and reflect.  Purge some things that just add noise to your life.  Reflect on humanity and the temporary nature of existence, and then reprioritize as necessary.  Don’t rush it.  Sit and be open.  Hopefully then, at the end of the next 40 days, we all emerge renewed, refreshed, remade, and ready to charge into what’s ahead.

Peace and Tenacity,

PB