We are invited, “in the name of the Lord, to observe a holy Lent…” In English the word Lent originally meant springtime, and was derived from an old word that meant lengthening, as in, the lengthening of the daylight hours. In our tradition, Lent is a season of preparation for the great celebration of the Resurrection. In many countries the word used to name this liturgical season means forty, the number of days, not counting Sundays, from Ash Wednesday to Easter.
Lent is not about giving up food, or candy, or bad habits to make ourselves healthier. Lent is not about starting some spiritual discipline to become more worthy of salvation. Lent is not even a journeying with Jesus into the wilderness.
To observe a holy Lent is about engaging more fully with our own journey. It is a journey towards intimacy with God, being drawn into the very heart of God. A journey that is much lighter if we manage to remove the distractions which “draw us from the love of God.”
God’s love calls us to return to the essence of who we really are, created from the dust of the earth, a part of God’s own creation. We can’t help but be reminded of our mortality and our need for penitence, but, in the midst of this journey there is great hope. After all, we have come to realize that we are people of the earth. This ancient wisdom, that we are both physical and spiritual people was known by the Native American religions; the Celts; the mystics in the Christian tradition; the ancient Hebrews; and Jesus Christ.
During Lent we try and find a balance between our physical and spiritual selves. We do this by caring for our bodies; seeking peace with our neighbours and with the earth; proclaiming God in Christ; seeking justice; and, performing acts of mercy and kindness. If we choose to fast during Lent, try fasting from rushing about in life. Make time to rest. Make time to spend time with God. Reconnect with who we really are – creatures of a loving God. Lent then, is about drawing us into God’s love, realizing that we are in fact worth everything to God.