Dear Claire,

Thanks so much for the gingerbread recipe! Not only were the biscuits a hit at home, I made a batch for a church bake sale a couple of weekends ago, in support of a group of students going on a service trip to Philadelphia next month. There were rather a lot of chocolate brownies at that bake sale, too. A good thing it happened before the beginning of Lent!

A different kind of fasting

You might remember that last year I decided to give up clutter for Lent, and I’m doing the same again. I’ve also taken a deep breath and given up something else – having my mobile phone by my bedside at night. I’ve been using my phone as an alarm clock, but have got into the habit as well of checking news and texts and emails immediately before switching the light out, and then again as soon as I wake up. I know it means I’m not transitioning restfully in and out of the day, but there’s something about that mobile phone that is a terrible draw. I’m hearing more and more people say the same, and seeing more and more studies coming out about the potentially addictive nature of all our digital devices. We are the last generation not actually to have grown up with them, and we are only just beginning to understand the impact on our children’s development.

Good tech, bad tech

I don’t want to suggest that I think cell phones are a bad thing – on the contrary, they are a wonderful way to keep in touch with each other, and a platform for some of the brilliant ideas we’ve written about this past year, like Free Rice and Charity Miles. But I’m a believer in all things in moderation, so I decided that this Lent, in the spirit of being more intentional and mindful, I would switch my cell phone back to an old-fashioned alarm clock. It’s not a full-blown ‘digital detox’ (at least one enterprising company here has actually launched a summer camp for adults where technology is completely forbidden) but I do actually feel a difference.

Now, if only I could get my alarm clock to play the lovely wake-up harp sound I have on my phone.

Much love,
Sam