All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful;
all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
1 Cor. 10:23-24
It’s always election season now. When one heated race concludes, it seems that the build up to the next, more heated one begins immediately. It takes a certain fortitude to survive social media where this is concerned. Because I love social media, I utilize the “hide” feature quite a lot. I unfollow or check out and sometimes I unplug. I have to spend more time reading actual books when the crushing deluge of memes and articles and gut-grabbing headlines sprawl across my feed. That’s not a loss, though it always seems it might be when I first consider it.
I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for, or suggest who you ought to vote for. I could throw my proverbial hat into the ring but in my estimation, that ring is piled high already with hats. Some of those hats are sturdy and strong, some flea bitten and moth-eaten. Some are metal, spiked, poisoned, ugly. There are too many hats. What’s the use?
Just yesterday as I drove I was thinking about this. I could lecture people or try to point out inconsistencies or reason with those who don’t agree with my politics. But just because I can do something like that, doesn’t mean I should. The verse that frames this post drifted into my head while I drove, while I cooked dinner, while I checked Facebook. How fortunate that it would then show up when I looked at the Lectionary readings for today.
We’ll spend another couple of weeks this month gliding toward Lent. Meatfare this week, Cheesefare and Forgiveness Sunday next. Just enough time for me to get to the polls here in Chicago to vote. Then maybe I’ll put this whole crazy political scene behind me for a little while. Maybe 40 days. Who knows? It’s not a bad idea to be informed, well read, and well reasoned. It’s not sinful to be a part of the democratic process. It’s not rude or unkind to stick to one’s convictions. But maybe this Lent I’ll hunker down a little, and move inward, to that heart’s descent, fasting, alms giving, prayer and waiting– heavy on the prayer.
And this isn’t a withdrawal. It isn’t a move toward becoming less concerned or less involved, just as Lent isn’t a disconnect from everyone and everything to hide from the crazy world. Lent is like the last days of winter, the thaw in the soil, the moisture creeping into the root systems, the greening just ready to burst forth. We’re like seeds there getting ourselves all sorted, fortified and ready for the brilliant bloom ahead. But here’s the thing– we don’t fast and pray and prepare so that we can say to those around us, “Look at me, all holy and such.” We do it so that we’re better equipped to love, better prepared to serve.
It’s a step back from the crazy, to be sure. This descent into the heart is a spiritual self-care and if we do it well, we get a better image of the bigger picture. Perhaps we see deeper into the crazy world, past the sensational headlines, the hot button topics and the political clown show and right into the hearts and minds and souls that dwell among us. And that is worthwhile, and humbling too. Maybe this Lent I’ll hunker down a little for this reason, with fasting and alms giving, prayer and waiting– heavy on the prayer.