I've realized that I entered the race out of shape and deluded about my real spiritual abilities, and that it's going to take that extra burst of energy just to make it to the finish line.
That's true this year, as well, even though, like the last few Lents, I came in with lowered expectations. Having taken the Lenten pummeling in my early years as a Christian when I tried to do too much, my hope the past few years has been to successfully fast within regulations on Ash Wednesday and to keep to my personal abstinence.
I have to say, this has been both a successful Lent in terms of making it through the fast and really profiting from personal abstinence. Having been a Facebook addict for too long, I quit the social networking site for Lent with no Sunday exception. This followed last year's quitting of FB with a Sunday exception, and 2012's effort to use Facebook less.
In really getting away from Facebook this year, I discovered in my heart what I already knew in my brain: Facebook is a huge timesuck. But, more than that, Facebook is also a huge soul-suck.
I wasn't off Facebook for a week before I started to realize that there were other, more profitable things to do than look at other people's cat pictures, pass around the latest political meme, or let everyone in my own, personal social micro-universe "like" whatever it was I had just done with my children.
The last part was the hardest. I admit that I was addicted to the "like". I wanted the approval of acquaintances, friends and family for whatever I posted and, given the number of "friends" on my list, I felt deflated whenever I couldn't garner ten or more likes. And, over time, that has been harder and harder to do. Between people dropping off of Facebook and those remaining setting up lists that I'm not on (I'm surmising based on what I see, responses I've gotten, and because I've done the same thing), the ability to get instant peer approval has significantly narrowed since I first got on Facebook in '09.
That is probably the reason giving up social media was relatively easy this year. I admit to checking the pages of organizations I'm a member of that post their news exclusively on Facebook, and to slipping one Sunday in posting a picture that I took at a Trail Life USA Camporee my son and I went on. But, there was otherwise no looking for social satisfaction from Mike Zuckerberg's billion-dollar e-monster.
Even though I did renew some old-school time-wasters like checking my email and blog stats too much, and playing an early iPod knock-off of Tetris, those could not possibly fill the void left by my FB departure. For one thing, my email has become mostly a channel for business transactions, notices from my kids' schools, and other non-social information. And, Tetris will only keep you occupied for so long. Also, you, my beloved readers, have been amazing in cooperating with God's grace by not commenting on any of my last ten posts. It has been, as Lent should be, a real electronic desert at Dulcius Ex Asperis.
What did I do to fill the part of the void that was left? Well, I felt more creative and wrote more posts than I thought I would. Most of the last several posts came within 24 hours of my deciding that I was just going to let this blog fade. But, I never quite did that. I've had an overall impression since I started this blog back in December 2011 that God wants me to write this blog. Over time, I've also gathered that whatever reason He has for me writing it, having a large readership isn't a part of it. Perhaps, as the Indian lacrosse players in the marginally watchable 2012 movie Crooked Arrows found out, I'm supposed to play solely to entertain the Creator.
I also spent time with a very good Lenten meditation book, Lent and Easter: Wisdom from Pope John Paul II. Compiled by John V. Kruse, this book contains an excellent selection of the great pope's writings, along with complementary scripture quotations, and very well written and considered prayer and action sections. It is the first daily Lenten meditation book I will have made it all the way through since becoming Catholic. I think cutting out the insistent noise of FB and other social media made focusing in on this very profitable book of meditations possible.
Also, my prayer has been more consistent. Getting away from all of my "friends" I was able to focus on my enemies—the people, both public and private, who are enemies of the Church, or personally make me angry or irritated. I've offered a rosary almost every day for them. I don't know if it has done them any good (although I suppose it has) but it has done a world of good for me.
So, as I pray for that last burst of energy to sprint to the finish line, I'm thinking that, like other things Lent has helped me get out of my life permanently and improve myself both physically and spiritually, it is probably time to cashier Facebook. Being better able to focus on entertaining the Creator with this blog and delving more seriously into the prayer and spiritual life He desires for me will certainly be worth the sacrifice.