Today is Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent in the Christian Calendar. Many will undertake the spiritual practice of giving something up for the next 40 days. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday – which is the not-so-spiritual practice of going on a bit of a binge before you give stuff up for Lent.
Fasting from something for 40 days reminds us of Christ's sacrifice for us. We forgo something we like or enjoy to create more margin, and we use that margin to reflect upon God's generosity towards us in His Son. Many people “add” something along with their sacrifice: they give up TV and instead write a letter a day to someone who has made an impact in their life. They give up meals and give the money they would have spent on food to a food pantry.
The Lenten Season snuck up on me this year and I’m not prepared – I don’t know what I’m going to give up just yet. As I was pondering it today, I started wondering what “fat” I have at work that I could cut? Things that aren’t necessarily bad on their own, but if I gave them up I could be more attentive at work, more generous towards my colleagues and more “present” with my tasks.
Social media comes to mind. When I have a few minutes between meetings and I don’t have enough time to get into actual work I mindlessly check Facebook or Twitter. Could I use that time more wisely? What could I do with those in-between minutes?
Or podcasts – I plug my ears and I think I’m getting some “professional development” by listening to an educational podcast. But am I communicating to my officemates that I’m unavailable? And would my work improve if I were more focused on it rather than splitting my attention?
I could cut the literal fat – no trips to the vending machine for 40 days. I could replace it with a lap around the building to provide fresh air and re-focus on the tasks at hand.
There’s nothing wrong with social media, podcasts or the vending machine (all in moderation, of course). And these “sacrifices” seem meaningless in the face of Christ, I know. But I wonder if cutting even those small little bits of fat can make a difference in reminding me of the One I work for.
Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. – Genesis 3:19