welcoming death, anticipating life

February 20, 2010

I like to feel productive.

Sometimes that means I actually am productive. Often, it means that I do things to feel like I’m accomplishing something.

For Lent this year, I’m giving up productivity.

Not all of it. But I am aware of how much l need to think about what’s next, to not waste a single moment. One of the places this is evident is in the car. I almost always have a podcast or audiobook going. At stop lights, I’m often taking a peek at email or twitter. It means one less podcast to listen to, one less thing to read when I’m at my desk. It feels like progress.

Last week, I introduced the meaning of Lent at our Austin Mustard Seed gathering. At the core of Lent is a dwelling on death. It is a season of denying ourselves, reflecting on the cross, all the while building up an anticipation of resurrection.

Whether you practice Lent or not, whether you are a Christian or not, there is something to be said for giving up one thing so that we can gain another. As we talked in our gathering, I decided that I should spend my car time in silence.

I don’t spend a lot of time in the car. But I’m certain that a few moments of silence, of reflection, of prayer, of simply being present, will be of greater value than any podcast, tweet, or email. Not a grand sacrifice to be sure, but my dread of it tells me that my need to be productive has a hold on me.

Previously, my recognition of Lent has been an entire season of denial — letting go of something so that I could look forward to having it again. It’s not a bad way to practice Lent, I suppose. But this year, I hope that every moment in the car will offer life coming out of death. I’m praying that moments of life, of being present with myself and with God, will emerge from the daily denial and death of production.

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