How is your Lent progressing? Leading up to Ash Wednesday, my annual decision is to a. give something up or b. do more works or c. do both. I am sure you can relate. I went with a. give something up.
What did I give up? I gave up listening to the radio while driving. My oldest asked if I was praying in the silence, but I am not.
Was I going to listen to scripture while out and about? No. I already had a fairly good habit established from last year. With a subscription to The Word Among Us, I would take in the daily readings and maybe a reflection or inspirational article while I ate breakfast. But then I started a job in November, and my routine needed to change. So after Christmas, I began listening to the daily readings while I made my breakfast and lunch at the kitchen counter. If I have time, I’ll listen to the reflection as well. (Gotta get my money’s worth from my smart phone. Can you imagine using a laptop for this? Where would it fit? I use the USCCB website for this.)
So what do I do instead of listen to music? Nothing. I am feeling the silence rather than re-placing or re-filling it. I am being present and aware. I might have a phone conversation to reconnect with a family member, but most of the time I have not replaced the silence with a more Christ-centered activity. I’m just being in my car whether I’m driving by myself for five minutes or an hour.
What have I learned? At first, I really missed my NPR. I like learning new things that IPR and NPR programming offers, and while I rarely watch the news on television, I would not hesitate to tune into radio news for local, national, and world issues. Today, almost 40 days of car silence later, I don’t mind. Quiet is OK. We used to have a silent house when the kids were young and we eliminated live TV for a while. I think it disturbed our visitors more than it disturbed us.
I have learned that the radio (or any purposeful noise) is a luxury. I wanted to practice self-denial daily, and think I got it right this Lent.