Friday, 22 March 2013

Lenten Retreat

On Palm Sunday morning I will quickly check my emails before I go to church, perhaps put up one post on Facebook, and then I will turn off my computer and put it away.  I am going off-line for Holy Week.

As I have blogged every week (and almost every weekday) since November 2006, this makes me feel rather nervous. I feel a responsibility towards the 630+ readers who click to Seraphic Singles every weekday. Somebody should to talk to Singles every day and ponder your lives. However, I am a bit of a slave to the internet, so I think it right and just to give it up for Holy Week.

Christianity is a relationship with Christ, and Christ came to save us from slavery to sin--and to all disordered attachments. This is why at Lent I think about created substances I depend on most to get me through the day, and thus in latter years give up coffee. We say that every Sunday is a little Easter, and never is this more true for me than the first Sunday in Lent when I spring from bed and rush slavering to the coffee machine. By Laetare Sunday, however, I do not feel so desperate. Coffee no longer has such a hold on me. Instead of being a necessary medicine, it has become an optional treat.

The internet is necessary for my work and the easiest way to stay in touch with friends and family, so it is of a different order from coffee or any other chemical substance we enjoy (like sugar). It is fraught with temptations, however, as it encourages intemperance: reading too much enjoyable trivia, engaging in too many pointless arguments, leaving imprudent remarks on Facebook, shopping too much, and flirting with complete strangers over dating sites in place of engaging with new people one can actually see.

At the same time, of course, it is a wonderful library and forum, and it is such a joy to be able to find an answer to every question, not to mention access to any piece of music or examples of any language I wish to hear.

Of course, I am forced to listen to a lot of stuff I don't want to hear or, rather, to read a lot of stuff I don't want to read. That's a problem with Facebook. I am not actually interested in every last media story my friends and acquaintances post about Pope Francis, for example, and I found myself writing a sharp remark to a complete stranger who repeated a lame phrase banged into her head by the media. That was an imprudent and unkindly thing to do, and I was thoroughly ashamed. I thought, "Time to take a break from the internet."

It is possible to take a break from worrying about being Single, too. And this is why I started the first Seraphic Singles blog, which is now, of course, Seraphic Singles/The Closet's All Mine/Anielskie Single.  Like giving up coffee in a coffee-drinking nation, it can be hard to do at first. You determine to stop worrying and to make the most of your Single life, and there people are telling you that you SHOULD worry, and do you WANT to be ALONE, and isn't it time you had a family of YOUR OWN? At such times, it is hard to remember that God has a plan and told you not to worry, that you are not, in fact, alone, and that you already have a family.

Still, the more mental space you have to enjoy being Single while being open to God's plan--whatever it is--the happier and more balanced you become.

You can improve your relationship to men in general: seeing strangers primarily as neither potential rapists nor potential husbands, but as potential friends and colleagues.

You have space to consider what meaning your life as a woman has apart from marriage and reproduction: you might find it in service to others and accepting service from others (which is at heart what marriage is anyway).

You even have space to watch how other women behave towards men and how other women cope with singleness, learning valuable lessons by paying more attention to others.

And instead of seeing men as either women in men's bodies or another species, an irrational and scary one, altogether, you have space to consider that men are just a different kind of human being, each one being unique and yet having common traits that you can learn to recognize and respect.

I write about the freedoms Single women have that Married women no longer have. However, Married women do have a certain mental freedom, a certain ability to see men as who they are and not who we desperately wish they would (or afraid they must) be, and I'd love for Single women to be able to share in that freedom as much as possible.

Meanwhile, I owe it to Ignatius and my book-babies to plug Ceremony of Innocence as much as possible, so you will be seeing a lot of  PRE-ORDER MY NOVEL TODAY! now and after Easter Sunday.

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