Blogging about Lent while simultaneously abstaining from entertainment via technology is a puzzle. Also, writing for a public readership of any degree about something interior and personal begs the question, 'why?' Hopefully, the same reason I write on most topics --- to share how Christ continually transforms my life when I'm willing.
Fasting from use of electric light is our chief family sacrifice. As Mindy shared so candidly here, much of this is pure adventure for children. Even our cats seem perplexed when we arrive home in the dark and bash around finding oil lamps and lighters in the dark before greeting them.
We have a bathroom (and fish tank) exemption, as well as a request that anyone who accidentally flips a light switch adds a coin to the Rice Bowl. Each of our girls also has a flashlight for errands around the house since the oil lamps must be untouched when they're lit. I notice an eagerness to help each other by holding the flashlight while the other one digs for a pair of socks or a favorite book. This accomplishes building virtue in them without mom or dad insisting or even suggesting as much.
Loading the dishwasher by lamplight is magnificent! Usually half drudgery and half cardio (keeping the babies out of the racks), it has taken on a more meditative groove. It will be useful, and spiritually fruitful, to exchange this novelty for spiritual momentum. I am not above packing up four children and driving to Barnes & Noble every night -- open 'til 11! -- because we have given up electric light. I need Lent.
Lucy is keeping a chart of our oil usage, which (yet unbeknownst to her) will provide a basis for a few science and math assignments after Easter. She'll have data about daylight hours and be able to track the increase ~ much beautiful Lenten poetry there, the darkness being replaced by light ~ as well as a wealth of simple math facts she can work, from the cost of lamp oil / quantity used each day, comparison to cost of electric light, and so on.
My biggest challenge is in not using "screens". The Liturgy of the Hours begins my day in all seasons, but without a conscientious fast, the computer is a Presence all else must contend with, usually for the rest of the day. I didn't prepare for Lent enough to learn to pray with the books (it takes some familiarity) and I'm gratefully reliant on the website. I've never donated money to them. I should. Rather than having the internet at my disposal while home (I long ago gave up mobile internet because it's so captivating), I have to keep a list of recipes, addresses or info to retrieve from email and get them at prescribed times.
In addition, I was quickly led to confront the sloth that leads to effectively medicating children with TV when sweet two year old Sally implored through furrowed brow, "I TIYED! Watch widdow show?" She refused the comfort of a story, or being held, or lying in her bed, so she roamed around until naptime overtook naturally. The next day was better.