With Ash Wednesday just a few hours away, I couldn't help but pause when I saw the following status update on a Facebook page today: "If you like Lent, you're doing it wrong." Hmm. Considering the fact that my status update is all about how I can't wait for Lent to begin, I didn't take that commentary lightly. For me there is something powerful and deeply, deeply spiritual in a season that invites us to spend so much time in the desert. In our instant-gratification, hedonistic society, the notion of purposely walking into the darkness, voluntarily taking on sacrifice, pondering the depths of suffering is a welcome change from business as usual.
I think there are definitely Advent people and Lent people, and those of us who look forward to Lent do so not because we don't understand it but precisely because we recognize just how badly we need it. We need those forty days to strip away the excesses from our lives -- excess food, excess spending, excess chatter -- whatever our excess of choice may be. What a blessing to be given this time to reflect and repent. If we enter Lent with the hope of moving forward with our prayer lives, of doing penance for our sins, of giving something extra to someone else, I don't think we can ever be doing it "wrong." There are many ways to do Lent right, in fact. If we start believing otherwise, we may miss the opportunity to work our way through the darkness and sorrow to a place of light and resurrection. Tomorrow the work of Lent begins, and I, for one, am glad to be here.
We'd love to hear your special thoughts on the meaning of Lent in your life, so please feel free to share in the comment section.