Yesterday I logged off for Lent. Logged off social media, that is. Not so much a grand gesture, nor a spiritual exercise in denial, more a timely experiment in Digital Detoxing.
Lent is the 6 week period leading up to Easter and is often associated with ‘giving up’ things.. chocolate, coffee, crisps etc. This is a token nod to the period being an ancient one in the church of prayer, fasting and self examination. Self denial, and resisting temptation being good for the soul. (The 40 days echo Jesus time in the wilderness, facing his own challenges and temptations- see my blog post If , for more on that story.) Not having grown up within a culture that made much of the Lenten period, its austerity and self imposed gloominess seemed at first like over spiritual self-flagellation to me, minus the hair shirts and birch twigs. I have since learned to treasure this season – more as journey than anything else. Often a journey into the wilderness in a spiritual sense. A time apart. A time of intentionality. I still prefer to do something for Lent in the socially active sense, and there are many charity led schemes to help with that. However this year I was challenged by an article that I read in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday about the benefits of Digital Detoxing. The challenge to our 24/7 world where we are ‘on call’ and bombarded with media on a constant basis. Without realising it we are glued to our screens and if not careful, miss out on the real world.
I will hold my hand up and confess to being glued. I read voraciously, am wildly curious about the world, and enjoy the stimulation of being able to find out about anything, instantly. Social media connects me world wide with scattered friends and family and I love keeping up with their news and photos and sharing mine. Twitter keeps me in touch with what is happening in the world, and brings me news from the church, politics, social action etc, etc and often brings a smile or a chuckle. I love being able to enjoy a book, and be able to be directly in touch with the author to share my enjoyment.
I also enjoy the wind in my face and the great outdoors. Having two dogs means I am out in all weathers and the fields, paths and waysides of the beautiful rural setting in which I live provide me with an endless sense of quiet wonder, as the season turn. Having my phone always in my pocket, it is my habit to stop and capture some of the beauty I see in a photograph. I am interested to see how not being able to share that photograph affects my joy in photography.
I hadn’t intended to log off, but I was curious and challenged simultaneously and Lent seemed an excellent time to start. How addicted would I prove to be? How would it feel to be ‘out of touch’? What effects might this have physically, spiritually and emotionally? I am only 24 hrs in and it is far too soon to tell. The irony of blogging about logging off is not lost on me either, and my blog auto posts to my twitter account. I may blog again post- Easter on how this experiment has gone.. watch this space.. or try it yourself? The website www.itstimetologoff.com suggests a whole raft of ways of approaching it – not least a 5:2 digital diet. (Five days on and weekends or two other days off).
I am enjoying the companionship of two writers in this journey through Lent ’17 One familiar to me, and one brand new. I can highly recommend both!
The familiar author is Paula Gooder, and the last of her series of books reflecting on key seasons in the Christian year – Let Me Go There The Spirit of Lent.
The new-to-me author is strangely enough, another Paula. Paula Huston and her delightfully grounded and practical book
Simplifying THE SOUL Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit.
Each leads you through Lent on a daily basis, giving rich spiritual food for thought and contemplation.
However you choose to journey in Lent this year, if you journey at all – many blessings from a fellow traveller on The Way.
(Clicking on the titles will take you to a site where you can find out more, and see other reviews. Clicking on the author’s names takes you to their websites)