Preparing for Lent: In the Wilderness We Confront Our Addictions


February 24th — 6th Email

One of the reasons that throughout history going into the wilderness has been used as a spiritual practice is that it brings to consciousness our “addictions.”  Beyond the essentials of life, what are the things we feel like we can’t live without – the things we automatically reach for in times that aren’t occupied with some activity?

We think of addiction as a word applied only to things that can threaten our health such as drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes.  But all of us have more socially acceptable addictions.  An addiction is something we habitually turn towards in order to distract us from feelings of emptiness.  By definition an addiction is a place in our lives where we have lost some degree of freedom.

Some possible places to look for addictions are our cell phones, the internet, video games or television.  We can have a food addiction if we routinely eat when we’re not really hungry.  We can be addicted to work – our minds habitually going to the next thing on our list of things to get accomplished.  We can be addicted to shopping, or to certain people, mistaking the addiction for love.  An addiction can be as simple as the necessity we feel to turn on the radio when we get into our car alone.

Doctors design their waiting rooms so they won’t be a kind of wilderness where people are forced to be alone with their thoughts as they wait.  There is always a TV or music on and magazines to read to distract us.

In your quest for greater freedom as a beloved child of God what addiction might you want to confront during Lent?  The worst part of such a confrontation is always the beginning, and it will help if we find in this discomfort a call to reach out to God in prayer.  The good news is that if we can bear the discomfort, before long it will give way to a sense of God’s peace, and a greater sense of freedom.  The wilderness will be transformed into a garden.