What If Lent Is About Disruption?

Disruption. I’ve been noticing this word more often recently. Most often I’m seeing it within the context of the business world, but It’s useful in other realms as well. Take a good look; it’s a good word:

disruption: the act or process of disrupting something: a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity, process, etc.

// disruption of sleep //disruptions in service//”throughout the history of medicine, health has been seen as a condition of equilibrium and illness as the disruption of a balanced state.” – David Mechanic (merriam-webster.com)

… an excellent word for us to ponder on a site whose theme is, “do not conform.”

For those of us who practice the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, we find ourselves at the beginning of the season of Lent. Did you know that the Church calls it “this joyful season of Lent”? Most people do NOT think of joy in the same thought as whatever they might really think about Lent: this boring season, this punitive season, this way too long season, and maybe even this pointless season.

Even among those of us who observe the season, many do so in a rather tepid manner, giving up chocolate or sweets in general, stopping at McDonald’s for a Filet-o-Fish sandwich instead of a Big Mac on Fridays, as if this constitutes fasting. And what about prayer and giving alms, the other two Lenten practices? Do we really do anything much differently?

What if we all — not just the Catholics, not just the Christians or even just the religious among us, but ALL OF US — did something different? What if we all did something disruptive? What if we all did something to make a break or interruption in the normal course of our daily lives and consequently a break or interruption in the status quo of our culture?

What if we all embarked on a fast? Took forty days to discipline our bodies to eat less, to eat more intentionally (whatever that might mean to you, but take the time to THINK about it and discover what eating really means to you, to our culture, to our ecological systems, and to our economic structures), to consider the realities of the many kinds of hunger in your life, in your home, in your community, in the world.

And now that we’re all thinking about the hungers of the world, what if we all prayed about it? Or meditated on it? Or spent some time in conscious thought or study on it?

And then, what if we all backed up our thoughts and prayers with concrete action? What if we would all “give alms”? [alms: something, such as money or food, given freely to relieve the poor] Maybe that means putting a little more (or a lot more) money into a collection basket in our houses of worship. Maybe it means putting some bills (and not just some of our spare change) into the hands of a homeless person on the street. Maybe it means working in, or financially supporting, the many organizations that work to alleviate hunger and poverty. Maybe it means working to change ourselves in any number of small ways to reach out to everyone we encounter with dignity and respect for their humanity. 

In other words, what if Lent is about disruption — a disruption of our mental & figurative sleep? a disruption of service to the oppressive structures of the world? a disruption of a balance that is weighted towards the wrong things? What if Lent is about changing us so that we can change the world?

Everyone can use the next forty days for change; you don’t have to call it Lent. Together we can be a disruptive force for good … come walk along with us!