Inadvertent Lent

My car stereo wouldn't work this afternoon. I found myself incessantly punching the on/off button during a midday errand and on the drive home, on the very small chance it might come on. Typically, I listen to at least three of the following on any given day: a CD, a tape, FM radio (Pacifica or else an eclectic assortment of music stations, and generally NOT NPR except that sometimes I get sucked into "As It Happens" from the CBC), AM radio (headlines and traffic reports). Or sometimes a book on CD (Freakonomics most recently).

So this was a big deal.

And then finally I realized, it's Lent. I've read about some other bloggers taking this as an opportunity for reflection. I've never observed Lent, and I'm not sure I will now, but it was a good reminder to take stock of what I consume. Am I glutton for stimulation by recorded music or broadcast voice? Yes. Is that a problem? Maybe. Perhaps I will wait to buy a new 15-amp fuse for a few days and see what that brings. Of course, then I won't be able to eject the CD of Shaker songs and the tape of Jesus Christ Superstar that were stuck in there when the fuse blew....

When I started commuting to work by car to a regular job for the first time ever (*not counting some summer and temp jobs during or right after college), four years ago at the age of 36,
I thought seriously about trying to pursue "driving meditation." I've never had a consistent practice -- how could I in the circumstances? -- but it's something I do recall from time to time. And there have been many days when I've listened to moving music, or observed scenes of great beauty over the hills and the bay, or seen a red-tailed hawk perched on a light pole or a black-tailed kite hovering over a field, when I've felt, "Yes, this IS the day the Lord has made," and felt centered.

So I will consider whether this inadvertent experience of Lent is something I ought to take deeper. No promises!


Liz in the Mist said...

Thanks for your prayers for the matter, and I will pray for the discernment of a new stereo vs. Lent :) I was cracking up about finishing school, I hadn't read it like that until I read your other comment! :)

Martin Kelley said...

Hi Chris,
I confess I don't read your blog but caught this via Martin's various links late at night. I clicked and read because over the past several years (as you may know I'm Catholic) I have given up radio in the car (and elsewhere) for the holy season of Lent, as well as some other things. Instead I pray the rosary for various intentions. I just thought it was a funny coincidence, or maybe message from God, that you are getting. You know, my car radio/tape player stopped working altogether a year or two ago also, and eventually I replaced it. But you know, I am beginning to think it might've been money wasted since I don't use it all that much!
In Christ,
Julie (Martin's wife...Gee I hope my ID doesn't come up as his and confuses you...we shall see after I click the button)

RichardM said...

The value of giving something up as a spiritual discipline requires that the decision be made consciously and freely. So the stimulus to make you think about doing this may well come serendipitously but the choice is yours.

Chris M. said...

Julie: Thanks for stopping by and sharing that practice. Yes, maybe it is a message.

Richard: Yes, the stimulus is serendipitous. So far (two days), I haven't replaced the fuse. Can't say I've been that much more or less present to God in that time. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

-- Chris M.

RichardM said...


The value of a conscious choice to abstain from something usually becomes evident only gradually. that's why there is some wisdom in having Lent be a period of time that spans a little more than a month.