Easing In...

Have you been able to name a Stumbling Block for yourself?

Jesus taught, “Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks!”

The woe of the world are the things…whatever they may be…that trip us up on our spiritual journey…the obstacles, the things that prevent us from progressing or growing on our journey.

Some people will say that from Ash Wednesday through Easter, a “good Christian” should have a spiritual practice ready to go, and we should be ready to dedicate ourselves to it fully for 40 days!

But our Spiritual Journeys can rarely be dictated by a calendar. Every day that we draw breath is another opportunity to renew our faith and explore new ways to connect with the Divine and Creation.

What I have learned in the first weeks of Lent is that my stumbling block…is not what I thought it was.

By Ash Wednesday, I had been informed (by an app on my phone) that I spend as much as 1/4 of my time each week ON my phone! Just learning this sent me into a small panic. I thought about what I could be doing with 1/4 of my time other than interacting with a screen, and I immediately decided that my phone was a stumbling block preventing me from living to my fullest. I deleted all the apps on my phone that I use most often. There are no longer any games on my phone, no social media; at this point, my cell phone is basically an old fashioned phone that lives in my pocket, also capable of text messaging and email.

In the first 10 days of Lent, I was definitely not feeling better about my free time. It felt like little had changed at all. I checked in with the app last Friday, to get hard data about how much time I had freed up now that my phone was really only a communication device and not a multi-media pleasure center. What was the verdict? I had decreased my use by…17%. This means that even though i have eliminated most of the things on my phone that I thought took up all my time…I’m still interacting with the phone at least 1 out of every 5 hours I’m alive.

That still feels incorrect to me…I dream of dedicating more of my time to things I care about….and yet…I’m starting to think that the phone may not be my actual stumbling block.

That’s the thing about telling the truth about how we live our lives. When we begin to identify the things that are holding us back or preventing us from growing…it turns out we are only grazing the surface. We begin to realize that there are bigger things than material objects or life style patterns that are preventing us from living as we would like.

Thank God Lent is 7 weeks long. We have plenty of time to ease in…and to see where this rabbit hole leads.

Brian Gruhn