The Way I Was

S is for “Step Back”

In my quest to “Live Well, despite Everything,” I shall soon say “So Long to you my friends, until we meet again.”

Walt Whitman said it better:

Dear friend, whoever you are, take this kiss,
I give it especially to you–Do not forget me;
I feel like one who has done work for the day, to retire awhile…
An unknown sphere, more real than I dream’d, more direct, darts awakening rays about me–So long! 

I’m stepping back from social media beginning February 18th (Ash Wednesday) until after April 5th (Easter). I’m following the example of my blogger-friends Kathleen Pooler and Shirley Showalter.

Shirley writes in  Entering Lent and Leaving Social Media Behind: Welcoming a More Passive Life:

“As grateful as I am for the Active Life made possible by social media, there’s a part of me that needs more time for rest and reflection. I crave a more Passive Life for awhile. I want to surrender to silence. To show you how my brain has  been trained, I wrote those words and then thought, “That would make a great tweet.” :-) I need to stop looking for inspiring 140-character quotes and start listening to my own questions.”

Thank you Kathy and Shirley, for encouraging me to experience whatever will happen when we combine the season of Lent with a sabbatical.

For me, this shall be a time of stillness, patience and listening. A time for Silence.

I know the benefits of silence (I practice silence daily), and I joyfully anticipate receiving more of what Silence does for me:

  • Silence refreshes my vitality.
  • It restores perspective.
  • It heals inner turmoil.
  • Silence takes me to the place where I can hear spiritual truth.
  • It brings humility.
  • Silence prepares my heart to recognize and gratefully receive spiritual blessings–mercy, peace, goodness, joy, faith, hope and love.
  • In silence, my heart and soul are revealed.

This lenten Sabbatical is about “Letting Go and Letting God,” which is to say it is a time for me to step back from the demands of the busy world, to turn off the distractions, and to listen to the Spirit.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Which Season is happening in your life right now?

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27 thoughts on “S is for “Step Back””

  1. This sounds as a very smart thing to do, Tracy – and definitely not easy at all. We grow so accustomed to constant electronic noise that we lose the right focus on the right things. I don’t think I can easily follow your suit, but you definitely got me thinking. Good luck!

    1. Thank you! A 40-day shut-down is definitely not something a person can dive into without preparation. The benefits of silence are good, but going at it too strong–to suddenly take 40 days of silence when we’re accustomed to constant stimulation, can bring us to the brink of madness. If you sign up for a week long silent retreat, they will recommend you take a one-day silent retreat first. And then a weekend. Ease into it. This is not my first foray into a long silence, so I think–or I hope–I’m mostly prepared for the radical change.

  2. I am in a similar season of stepping back and discovering, perhaps for the first time, who I really am. Although I don’t plan a social media fast, I am checking to make sure my use of time expresses the way I value myself. For example, I take violin lessons and there is an investment of time and money, but does my practice schedule reflect the love I have for it and my desire to improve? It’s time to take a fresh look at how I live my life compared with how I want to live my life.

    1. It’s wonderful to have the time to consider these deep questions, and yours is a very good one. “How does the life I’m living compare with the life I want to live?”

      A hidden blessing, given that you didn’t choose to have this time. It’s exciting to see what God is doing in your life!

  3. The more I think of it, I believe this is a true expression of what lent should be about (if you are religious): Lent wants to encourage us to step back from our daily routines, and through renouncing something that we hold dear make space for quiet and reflection in our lives. I think you will have a great ride ahead these coming weeks, and I am sure it will open all sorts of eyes. I will be thinking of you throughout your experience and look forward to the Tracy that comes out of it! 🙂

  4. 🙂 I anticipate interesting changes, Oliver. It feels very much like I’m taking the first steps in an entirely new direction, but without any idea where I’m headed. I feel like an explorer on the brink of a discovery. I’ll be sure to let you know what I find…

  5. Lord Jeffrey Sachs tells a great story about questioning a guy who was always running around doing this and that. “Who says your happiness is in front if you?” he asks. “Sometimes you just need to stop and let your happiness catch up with you. ☺

      1. :ove Lord Jeffrey Sachs, Maurice. Thanks for reminding me of him as I enter Lent. And I’m glad I included Passover also. Krista Tippett’s online interview with Sachs and the Dalai Lama among others is wonderful if you haven’t heard it.

  6. I completely understand, Tracy. I have been craving more time for rest and reflection myself. Since the holidays, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the subject. You’ll be missed. I hope you’ll journal your experience. xo

    1. I generally keep a journal, Jill. I’m not really sure what I’m going to be doing; no particular plans or agendas. I’m just going to wait and see what comes…

      I’ll miss you all, too. xo

  7. Giving up blogging and extra deadlines “for Lent” seems like a wise decision, Tracy. 😉 Very wise, and almost enviable.
    Wishing you the very best…and I’ll see you after Easter

  8. How very brave of you Tracy to embrace silence in the realm of social media. I really look forward to hearing what your experience was like. I can imagine at first it might be challenging, but I can then see it being completely relaxing and empowering. No need to check Facebook or WordPress, no guilt at not leaving feedback for someone. Enjoy yourself 🙂

    1. I suppose there is something a bit brave about stepping away from the group. I think it’s a lot easier for introverts. In some ways, it feels braver to me to force myself to do social media, because it’s a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m quite comfortable being alone, but I’ve really enjoyed blogging and Facebook, and decided that it was getting in the way of listening with my inner ear, and making decisions independently. I do intend to enjoy the time. See you soon!

  9. I am learning that I need to battle for my quiet. My world is noisy and even this “quiet” season while it is less than what was before is not yet quiet enough. This is good encouragement Tracy.

  10. As you say good-bye to your many online friends, you also are saying hello to the experiences of many others who hear the call to silence in this season.

    I will think of you as I light my candle each day. And it will be a joy to see what you post after Easter.

    Wishing you rivers of silence and islands of peace. And sunshine in the end!

  11. I hope and pray that your time away will bring you the silence and reflection you desire Tracy. I shall miss you, I enjoy seeing you here and on FB, but I fully understand. We will all be here when you return…see you again soon, time flies 🙂 ❤ xoxo

  12. Stepping back from social media is definitely a smart thing to do every once in a while. I sometimes think back to the time that I lived completely without social media. Both, with and without have their own benefits and downfalls as well. I feel that social media has brought all those people I enjoy connecting with just so much closer, especially since my family is so far away. But I do admit that it can be addictive and have set clear limits for myself and strive to not let social media control me. Some days I may be active and on others, maybe not quite so. All of the chatter and comments can wait. Have a lovely sabbatical and welcome back when the time is right.

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