As you read this, we are knee-deep in the midst of the season of Lent. Lent is a period of forty days (not including Sundays) leading to Easter. For those of us who give ourselves fully to this season, Lent is a time of soul-searching and repentance. As a pre-Easter discipline, we reflect upon our lives and take stock of what we see within. Lent is also the time to cleanse from our hearts the things we’d like to do without—malice, prejudice, unkind thoughts—and ask God to restore us.
Barbara Brown Taylor explains it this way: “the church announced a season of Lent, from the old English word lenten, meaning “spring”—not only as a reference to the season before Easter, but also an invitation to a springtime for the soul. Forty days to cleanse the system and open the eyes to what remains when all comfort is gone. Forty days to remember what it is like to live by the grace of God alone and not by what we can supply for ourselves.”
How do we achieve this cleansing? The traditional method is to give something up for Lent. It could be as simple as giving up chocolate (I have many friends who would disagree that this is “simple”). Then, when one felt a craving for the chocolate, she or he could contemplate that feeling—the feeling of relying not upon earthly sustenance, but on the nutrition that God provides. But it’s not really about the chocolate (or whatever one might give up). It’s about trusting in God to provide all we need.
Some people choose not to give up something for Lent, but rather to concentrate on doing or adding something to their lives—like eating more nutritiously or incorporating Bible study and prayer into the daily routine. However one chooses to observe the season, the point is “to live by the grace of God alone and not by what we can supply for ourselves.” My prayer for you is that this season of Lent would be meaningful and a blessed one.
Written by Daniel Glaze
Photo by Libby Grammer
Originally published in the 2018 Spring Quarterly Explorer