I’m excited to have my friend Jenn Cannon guest posting this week. She’s going to be sharing some of her journey with fasting and healthy living in light of the Lenten season. Before I turn my blog over to her, I thought I’d prime the pump, so to speak, by sharing some of my thoughts on Lent and body theology.
I never knew much about Lent growing up. My church didn’t really follow the church calendar outside of Christmas and Easter, and I only knew about Ash Wednesday from my Catholic friend. I was in college before I was ever encouraged to “give something up for Lent.” That first year, I followed my friends’ lead and gave up sweets. I lost eleven pounds in time for Easter Sunday (oh my, what a sweet tooth I had, especially with unlimited soft serve in the dining hall!), but I missed entirely the spiritual purpose of preparing my heart and mind for the celebration of the resurrection.
A couple of years back, I gave up driving for Lent. I could, because I lived close enough to walk pretty much everywhere I needed to go. Walking has always been a spiritual experience for me, although to be fair, I usually prefer to walk in nature than along busy city streets. For the first time, during that season, I sought the spiritual side of Lent and allowed myself to experience the loss of my car and enjoy the presence of God on my daily journeys.
The next year, I stayed overnight at a monastery on Ash Wednesday and learned the spiritual practice of silence. It was a painful time for me, and learning to be silent and still became disciplines I will always carry with me. I wrote a little about my experience at the monastery here.
Giving up BEING AWAKE for Lent
This year, Lent sort of sneaked up on me, and I wasn’t sure I would give up anything at all. But I’ve been uncommonly tired in the last few months, and recently I’ve been pressuring myself to get out of bed and be productive again. Today I decided (a little late, I know) to give up this spirit of doing for Lent and practice being.
Giving up doing for Lent may not sound very applicable to body theology, but it really is. Our western society is collectively sleep-deprived. While most people sleep an average of six hours per night, most people need eight or nine hours. That means most people are living on two or three hours of sleep fewer per night than their bodies really need to function properly.
Last week, after a super-fun sleep study and nap study (during which I was sorely unable to do much of either), I met with my neurologist to find out that my body most likely needs ten to twelve hours of sleep per night. That’s two to four hours more sleep than most people need–and four to six hours more sleep than most people get!
So, for the rest of the Lenten season, I am going to be sleeping as close to ten hours a night as I can. That means moving my work schedule from the morning to the early afternoon. That means going to sleep instead of squeezing in that extra Netflix episode. That means allowing my body to receive the rest that it needs without pressuring myself to get up and be productive all day. That means practicing the spiritual discipline of rest.
We’ll talk a little more about the theology of rest on Thursday. For now, get ready to meet my new guest poster, Jenn Cannon. It’s gonna be awesome! Until then, I wish all you lovely readers peaceful sleep and pleasant dreams…..zzzzzzzzzzzz.