By Carmen Acevedo Butcher

Goodbye, Internet!

The Christian season of Lent begins this year, 2010, on Ash Wednesday, February 17th, and culminates on Easter Sunday, April 4th.

During this holy season, I’m going to eschew as much of the Internet as possible. That means, goodbye, Facebook, and goodbye, reading the newspapers each morning online.

I wonder if I can do it.

However, because I love my students and because I firmly believe that no student should write me an e-mail that isn’t answered within twelve hours or less, I will obviously be on my Shorter College e-mail, which also lets me know if someone messages me on Facebook, which I guess is kind of a sideways glance at Facebook, not to mention that my cell phone catches other ambient information from Facebook and relays it to me. But, still, that slows my use of the Internet to a trickle.

Instead of dancing with the Internet daily, I’m going to hunker down in the quiet of Lent. I am going to embrace the darkness of faith. I am going to listen to the silence of Christ, which is so eloquent. I am going to confess my sins and my weaknesses and all the petty, shallow, clay-footed stuff in my divine soul. I am going to admit my fears. I am going to admit my hurts. I am going to ask Jesus to let me become more intimate with him, above all others. I am going to request transfusions of God’s agape love. I am going to say to God, transform me. And I am going to pray that doing this will help me love my husband, my children, my friends, and my enemies better, more, intensely well.

I wrote a book recently about this kind of spiritual hunkering down. I figure I should take some of my own medicine.

My BFF, Beth, tells me how much she loves this book — Following Christ: A Lenten Reader to Stretch Your Soul — and how much it meant to her to read it (she’s quick, wise, brilliant, and very supportive). While Beth’s kind words always mean more than I can say, I also know that writing a book and knowing God’s peace aren’t necessarily synonymous.

I wish they were. Writing a book is hard, the way knowing God’s peace, for me at least, is hard. I get in the way of it, you see.

Also, the terrain of my soul is only known by God, and I must turn to Christ for healing this season. This Lent, I am going to take my complaints out of my articulated, visible life and sing to God only instead: Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. Nobody knows, but Jesus. I mean I will give God the grief of my soul.

I have friends who are very, very tolerant of my flaws and very, very loving as friends, and when I get very, very quiet within, I can easily see how very, very patient they are with me, and encouraging. This kind of human agape love always enables me to take the next step, to risk the next vulnerability, to open the next weakness of mine up to God. I am grateful for my friends.

I will also be hunkering down in 1 Corinthians 13, which seems especially appropriate as I am writing this on Valentine’s Day. When my husband Sean and I were married, my sister Anita read 1 Corinthians 13 at our wedding. I am going to make it my lectio divina passage for Lent, meditating on, memorizing, and daily remembering those sublime and challenging words:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)


This piece was first posted at Carmen’s blog, Carmen’s Chatter.

You can find out more and read an excerpt at Paraclete Press.

About the Author

Carmen Acevedo Butcher is a professor of English and scholar-in-residence at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. She was the Carnegie Foundation professor of the year for Georgia in 2006, and during the 2004-2005 year she and her family lived and learned in Seoul, South Korea, while she taught as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Sogang University. She has written books on medieval women mystics and linguistics. More information can be found on these at her website. (Photo credit: Katherine Butcher.)

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