The autumn Ember Days fell last Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Traditionally, they come the week after Holy Cross (September 14 for all using the 1662 BCP). They have largely become the days when anxious seminarians and postulants write letters to their bishops, but they historically served as fasts in the Church. I took that as an excuse/opportunity to have an extended time away from social media and streaming (Netflix and its cohorts) last week, and to go through Stephen Macchia’s book, Crafting a Rule of Life. Some observations:
- Any fast will show you what and who you rely upon very quickly.
- Quiet is still not the enemy, and taking time for prayer, reflection, and leaning into what God is doing in your life will benefit from it.
- There’s a lot to be learned when you get away from what you’re addicted to.
- All the things you’re worried about for next year? Small potatoes that get sorted quickly when you start looking at what God has given you to do today and this week.
- Fasts go much easier with a partner (thanks Katie!).
- You might be surprised how it shapes you. I came to Monday and spent most of the day without Netflix, or social media. Social media is categorically under “Useful tools” for me now. I’d do just fine without it.
- While fasting can happen at any time one wishes or is so led, having the tie to the Church year is helpful for reflection and to recall that you are not the only one through time and space who is fasting.
As to Crafting a Rule of Life, I believe it was genuinely beneficial for me. In a season of discernment, paying attention to God’s call on your daily, weekly, and monthly commitments and rhythms gives a lot of wisdom and direction for seasonal and annual cycles of life. I’m grateful my spiritual director put me onto this resource and commend it to you all. I do recommend finding a friend or two to work through it with. It might take a little more intentionality but it will be worth it.