Yesterday I introduced Bishop Payne’s concept of a Slow Lent. Here are five slow spiritual disciplines that complement traditional Lenten disciplines.
1. Traditional: repentance
Slow: speak less, listen more.
In our hurried culture, we often are so quick to speak, to get our words out, that we rarely take the time to listen to what others say, especially those that we disagree with. We rush to judgment when we need to listen and possibly to change the direction of our thinking, planning, and acting.
2. Traditional: forgiveness
Slow: let go of one “should.”
Many of us carry various kinds of “ought’s or should’s” that overload our schedule. We need to “forgive” ourselves. For example, as a new pastor, I feel I should be involved in different local community activities. One piece of wisdom I received recently is that a new pastor should not be involved in local community activities during the first year so that he or she can fully enter into the life of the congregation. So I have given up that “should” even before Lent starts.
3. Traditional: catechesis (teaching)
Slow: re-learn one basic of the faith
Rather than focusing on the newest spiritual discipline, simply re-focus on some basic spiritual discipline. This year at Resurrection Lutheran, we will be re-learning the Lord’s Prayer and its meaning for prayer and life.
4. Traditional: fasting
Slow: choose one way to ‘unplug’
For some Christians, Lent means giving something up so that one can better focus on God. The usual items are chocolate, desert, alcohol, or meat. Bishop Payne suggested that perhaps we “unplug” from the internet or turn off our smartphones or television. We might not be able to do it 24/7, but we might choose to turn it off every evening or every Saturday. Of course, the purpose is to open our time and our lives in a fresh way to God.
5. Traditional: almsgiving
Certainly we need to be as gracious as our God and give to people in need. Lent is a great time to practice such giving. Yet our culture is so focused on the accumulation of things, perhaps we can shift our attention from accumulating to letting go. My uncle Jerry lived for several years during his retirement in an RV. Whenever he considered buying something, he had to consider what he would give away to make space for the new. It made him think twice before buying.
Which discipline might help you slow down this Lent?