Today is the third day of Lent. This year, like last year, I am struggling with what I should give up. Popular items include chocolate, smoking, coffee. It’s my understanding that the item to be given up should be a vice or something that will be a daily struggle. We are supposed to be reminded of Christ’s struggle in the desert and his 40 day fast. We should be reminded of the life Christ lived and gave up for us. It should be a daily reminder that in fact, we are traveling through the Lenten season and are in preparation for Easter. We should prepare our hearts for another spiritual death and rebirth through Christ.
A couple of years ago I gave up spending on anything that wasn’t necessary. It was tough b/c I like to buy things. Things for the house, shoes, cute headbands, fun stuff for the kids, etc. One little trip to Target or Hobby Lobby can turn into quite a spending spree. That won’t really work this year b/c my husband and I have already imposed a spending lock down beginning way back in February. I don’t think it really counts if I’m already doing it. Another year I wore a bracelet (I almost never wear bracelets) morning, noon and night. I think I took it off to shower. Anyway, it was a reminder every time I saw it or absentmindedly played with it of why I was wearing it in the first place. A friend of mine is giving up yelling. She has two young children so that should be a tough one. She is hoping that she will enter the Easter season a more calm and peaceful person. I’ll check back with her in a week or so to see how it’s going. Serenity now, insanity later. Another friend is giving up Facebook. I can see how that would be tough especially if you are constantly hitting refresh. She says she wants to use this time to connect with friends the old fashioned way…by calling them and talking to them. More power to her. Personally, I have found Facebook to be a wonderful way to connect with friends, old and new, who I normally wouldn’t take the time to talk to. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. It’s just that I promise to call or get together with a friend and before you know it three months has gone by and we haven’t gotten together like we said and I feel guilty. As annoyed as my husband is with Mark Zuckerberg after watching The Social Network I have to admit that it is an amazing way to stay connected.
I’ve come full circle and still can’t come up with a vice to give up for the next 36 days. So, I’m going to add something to my life. I’m going to attempt to spend some time each day reading a Lenten devotional. All my life I have had good intentions to spend time each day in quite reflection, meditation, talking to God (whatever you wanna call it). Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (if I believed in an actual hell I would be headed there – in a hand basket. A very cute hand basket with cute cushions and scones. but I digress) As many good intentions as I have I can never keep up with it. That being said I think this Lent addition will be a challenge. Even today as I was reading the scripture that accompanied the devotional I found myself getting antsy and ready to finish the Psalm. I had to tell myself to calm down and not race through it. My devotion of choice is a little booklet I picked up at church called Fellowship of Prayer, 2011 Lenten Season by Holly McKissick.
Here is today’s devotion:
Paper or Plastic? How about a Canvas Bag? Scripture is from Psalm 104
Out for a morning run, I end up behind the trash guys. I’m amazed at their strength and agility. A hundred degrees and dripping sweat, or five degrees and frozen fingers, they rush from pile to pile, heaving the trash into the truck.
Worst of all, they deal with the smell. If I’m trapped behind the truck for a few seconds, I turn and run in the other direction, all the while thinking, now why did God make humankind?
From the first words in Genesis through the entirety of the Christian tradition, humans are portrayed as the pinnacle of creation. With our higher thinking and moral reasoning, we are partners in God’s creation, helpers who till the earth and keep it.
Running behind the trash truck gives you another view. Humans muck up the world and, then spend a fortune trying to un-muck it. We generate giant piles of garbage: monuments to our overconsumption and thoughtlessness. While some (like my husband) take pains to reduce the carbon footprint, limiting the trash to one sack every other week, others (like me) leave a mess for others to clean up.
Why did God make humankind? One classical argument is that God wants our help.
Honestly, thought, we’re not always that helpfu.
There’s another answer, though, found in the poetry of the creation stories: God made humankind because God, the mystery behind all life, craved connection, love, community. Even God needed a village.
Enough to deal with our trash.
Prayer: God who sees our trash and loves us still, help us to be sensitive, thoughtful stewards. Amen.