Why Lent is a gift

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that (for Christians) marks the beginning of our 40 day (excluding Sundays) journey toward Easter. I grew up in a culture with a significantly greater appreciation for Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) than for Lent. I knew the word, but it was virtually devoid of meaning.


I have come to love Lent–in fact to view it as a significantly overlooked gift–because it provides a period of focus and, perhaps ironically, of freedom. Most associate Lent with refraining from something. Some associate it with adding a practice, perhaps as a substitute for the thing given up. This practice is almost always popularly depicted as a miserable, punitive experience.

This hasn’t been my experience of Lent, however. I find that Lent offers me the perfect time to make some deliberate recalibration to my life. Doing so has been profoundly freeing in a number of ways. So much so that I often anticipate Lent because it gives me a natural context to press the reset button.

Here are some things I love about Lent:

  • Forty days is long enough to create pretty significant change, but it’s not long enough to be demoralizing.
  • Lent may be the only time, other than at funerals, where we even try to take our frailty seriously.
  • Lent places Easter in sharper focus. The events of Easter unfolded because of God’s deep love for humanity that is wracked by sin.
  • Lent provides social reinforcement for a changed practice.

This year, as in years past, I will step away from Facebook for Lent. I will still blog and those posts will still be automatically posted to Facebook. I will not, however, be checking Facebook or replying to any content posted there.

I hope you have a very meaningful Lent.

3 Replies to “Why Lent is a gift”

  1. I like what you said about Lent. I confess that in my Christian experience lent is something that you get off of your clothes. My traditions were Bible-believing Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists. None of which really follow the Church Calendar. I wish that we did more of that. It reminds us even more that the Scriptures’ History is to be remembered even in our 21st Century world. I am sure that giving up Facebook is difficult especially if you usually spend a lot of time there. I suspect that other things will change in addition to no Facebook time for you. I would guess that your relationships to family and friends will become more intense in a good way. Happy Ash Wednesday! I had been a Christian for 23 years when @ the ripe old age of 31 years and living in Washington, DC a Catholic friend educated me about her ashes. Better late than never!!!


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