For years people have been giving up things for Lent. Candy, drinking, solitaire, chocolate (see candy), TV, texting, and meat are all things that I've heard people giving up for the time of Lent leading up to Easter. While many of these things really are the sort of stuff we give up a little, I think that the one thing we miss giving up is quite simple, and may be the most difficult.
It's cool to be busy, that is, at least it's not cool to not be busy. If you're not cramming everything full of time, if you're not rushing to the next thing, if you're not working on "way too much," then we would never admit it. Because if you're not 'busy' then you're not useful; you're lazy. You're not contributing.
The tradition of giving up things for Lent is an old one. Except in days gone by, they wouldn't give up junk food, or TV, or other things that were bad for them. They would give up food, something which was necessary to survive. That was mostly because they didn't have the access to the excess that we do, but it was also because they got it. Fasting over lent had the purpose of freeing up time to give to God, time to spend in reflection over the Easter story. Time which would have been spent shopping, preparing, and eating food, was suddenly redirected.
If we can get in control of our excess, start to see the world through the lens of what we need in a more honest way, and use our time to try to benefit us, then it would all result in striving for a more simplistic lifestyle.
Simplicity means having less to take care of, less to worry about, less to stress over. But simplicity also means having more to give. More time, more resources, more creativity, and more thought given towards God and others.
This year during Lent we're going to take steps to give up busyness, give up excess, and give more of ourselves. The next six weeks will ask you to look at your possessions, your finances, and your relationships, and ask you to take practical steps toward simplicity. Throughout the next six weeks you can leave comments right on the blog to share your progress, your stories, and your experiences.
Let's get rid of busyness, and take life in the full instead.