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.