Sometimes we know what we are supposed to do for Lent and sometimes God overrules our proposals.
Like many, my thought was to give up Facebook, at least in the voluminous torrents I often enjoy. That didn’t last long.
Instead, God has showed me how to follow these Facebook torrents into a deeper, richer life. Bear in mind, as a caregiver in an ice-encrusted freeze zone (that part of Vermont you see in the purple upper corner of your national weather map), Facebook has been my primary safe and reliable social realm for months now. So within the first week, I had signed back on, just because there was too much ice between my front door and my automobile.
And then, God opened the whole thing like a flower. Old friends who came back into my life via Facebook came up for visits. With one I attended a concert; with the other my beloved and I enjoyed an extended sleep-over. (Note to rookies: back when I lived in Boston, where there were more close-in options, people used to plan who to get snowed in with.) These visits, both with friends of more than three decades, acted more or less like fertilizing a scraggly plant.
But God does not plan for me only to enjoy this Lent, to pretend I need no real correction. Another long-ago co-religionist, not really a close friend, but a close co-worker, is using Lent to give up, and to lead others in giving up, personal plastics. And although I do not aspire to zero in this regard, just participating in this Facebook community has renewed some skills I put aside awhile ago. She’s got me schlepping my own containers and bags into the bulk department, instead of reaching for the easy roll-out. It takes time to mark a tare weight on each one, but once you do it, there it is. And setting the schlepp box on the counter means repacking the containers as soon as they’re empty and clean, rather than looking for them next time. This doesn’t just make me feel good. It makes me feel closer to someone who turns out to have been something more than a passing compatibility.
The sum total of this is more than any one relationship. My family culture tended toward what sociologists call “instrumental relationships.” That is, someone who is useful. Who is congenial in this particular task or pleasure. Facebook is helping me uncover all that snow, to find that some of what I supposed to be annuals were really perennials putting down roots.