I do not know how well I’ll do with this Lenten exercise goal of journaling each day. Whether or not I fill up the front and back of my seventy page notebook purchased at Walgreen’s today is irrelevant. I’m willing to give it a try.
One of the things I’m trying to do without this Lent is social media, especially Facebook. Because I’ve suddenly become anti-social? No, far from it. Because I’ve become too social. Too many are the voices and the sounds of all the comments and YouTube videos that are drowning out the voice of my own heart. Hear I could pause to labor through an exercise used to show that God resides in the heart in order to make the next sentence make sense, but time is short. In the drowning of the voice of my own heart I also drown out the voice of God. He doesn’t yell or cry out…often He just whispers. The world is a noisy place, full of distractions meant to keep us deaf to that whisper. And so I will use these forty days to once more attempt to hear. Before I can ever act, I must hear.
Among the voices I’ve been growing weary of is the voice of “snark.” Everyone, it seems, including me, can fall prey to using this voice. I see it in the various groups on Facebook that my friends join. “I bet this tube of Anusol can get more fans than Sarah Palin” reads one. Or “Has anyone else noticed that Sarah Palin is insane?” To be fair there are also the “I bet this burrito can get more fans than Barack Obama” variety as well. Really? Is this what passes for humor today? Are we all Jon Stewart wanna-bees? (For the record, I kinda like Jon Stewart. But one is enough.)
Snark also comes directed at faith. I received a reminder of this recently when I posted that I’d “be back after Easter” as my status on Facebook. When asked why I replied “Lent.” “Oh…that” was the reply from a friend. I could almost hear her eyes rolling in her head as she typed the words. But were they really rolling? One of the dangers inherent in the pithy, typed comments so prevalent today is that we do not hear what the writer was really saying. We apply the prejudiced voice inflections of our own minds onto another’s words. My friend may have said “Oh…that” in a completely different internal inflection and without a trace of sarcasm. I’m hopeful that she did. All of the snarking I see applied daily is starting to affect my own voice. Hence another reason for a forty day “time out.”
This snarking at faith is often times borne of two things: ignorance and/or hubris. People who have little knowledge of Lent brush it broadly as being a “downer”, a time of sacrifice or deprivation. And they’d be right. It is both of those things, but it is also so much more.
As I wrote at the start, saying we often drown out the voices of our hearts and of God by our immersion of self into material goods or pleasures. We put them before Him. Who can measure up? I don’t know, because I do not walk in the shoes of others or know their thoughts. I only know firsthand my own sin and its depth (if I allow God to show it to me), so judging others is presumptuous and dangerous. There is no despair in any of this, but the joyful realization of one’s failings and that in Christ we are healed through the Cross of Resurrection which we will embrace liturgically in less than fifty days.
The adventure of the heart asks for sacrifice, to expose ourself so that we can be available for what really corresponds. With this of course comes risk, something as foreign as the word sacrifice is to we who are so comfortable in our suburban worlds. A true life means a constant work of freedom. We often have divided hearts, more than one reason for doing what we do. My goal and work this Lent is to rediscover and rededicate my heart and my life to the true object of my desire, a live lived with and for Christ, even at he sacrifice of many attractive, easier, and more convenient things. May God help me to embrace the sacrifices of this path to freedom. Then I will be free to listen to my heart.