Withdrawing into the Desert: Observing Lent

I can remember my Catholic bestie giving up candy for Lent each year. It was a real buzz kill. I mean… Easter candy is the best, am I right? Cadbury hard shelled milk chocolate eggs?!? Reece’s eggs?!? Any kind of chocolate in egg form, really, shouldn’t be passed up.

As an agnostic growing up and an atheist in my teen and young adult years, I had no understanding, nor interest, in Lenten sacrifice or observance.

It wasn’t until my kids started attending a Catholic school I began to grasp the full meaning. While attending Mass at my daughter’s school, I listened to a priest speak of Lent as a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. By observing Lent—fasting and resisting temptation, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and symbolically withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. 

The idea preparation is necessary for Christians to be fully ready to participate in the celebration of Easter—honoring the significance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the miracle of his resurrection, appeals to me. I’m an internalizer, a reflector, a think long-and-hard-er, and as an introvert, I can tell you, withdrawing into the desert for 40 days of reflection and prayer…meditation on the true meaning of eternal, unconditional love… well, that sounds pretty great to me.

Next thought: How in the hell (pun intended) in this insanely busy life of three kids, jobs, obligations, and commitments do I find a way to withdraw into the desert for 40 freaking days?!?

At first it seems daunting, but the image in my head of intentionally taking things out of my life to make room for Christ to fill the spaces left behind is just too powerful for me not to try. And so, for the last several years, I’ve done just that. I’ve tried…with different levels of self-assessed success. Let’s just say… I’ve learned using Lent as an excuse to be obsessive about food isn’t the same thing as making room for the Big Guy in my life. If you didn’t read my post a few weeks back, go there when you’re done reading and you’ll catch my drift.

I’ve reflected on what eats (I’m so punny!) at the largest chunks of my time and represents my worst “temptations.” Ironically for this blogger, I’ve come to the conclusion it is the social media monster I believe I must leave behind. Facebook, Iniphone_hands_power_offstagram, and Twitter will not be invited into the desert with me.

Social media apps/sites are the metaphorical rabbit hole of my life. I know I’d be flush with embarrassment if I actually…accurately…tallied the number of hours I spend each week staring at my phone, iPad, and computer screen, scrolling through any number of feeds. Falling deeper and deeper into the hole as each minute flies by…

It’s 90% mindless (the 10% of REAL news I read can be found elsewhere), voyeuristic, and a minefield of negative thought traps for me. It is hard for me to admit…because I do love the faux connected-but-not-really-connected connection to the greater world via the inter webs…but… it’s true…my time could be far better spent on any number of other things. Reaching for my phone constantly is a habit teetering on addition level status. And that, my friends, is no bueño.

Now, I’ve learned in my Lenten research Sundays are likened to “mini Easters” and as such they are the exception to the rule. Don’t believe me? Check out this little video.

Thus, I’ll relent on Sundays and allow myself to work my blog, schedule social media posts, and in general attend to my accounts once a week. If you’d like to connect with me in the mean time… or on a Monday through Saturday, shoot me an email at mailthetallmom@gmail.com.

As for the next 40 days, in the mornings when I peel open my tired Tall Mom eyes, instead of reaching for my phone, I’ll be reaching for my prayer journal.

If that’s not in invitation for Jesus to fill the space I’ve created, I don’t know what is.

To my Christian friends and readers, I hope you experience an enlightening Lenten season, whether you choose to withdraw or not. Wishes for a blessed Easter season, as well.

To my non-Christian friends, please be patient with those of us in the desert these next 40 days (49, really). For many of us it’s in effort to better know how to truly love…and you can’t really fault a person for that.