What is Lent?

Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and short story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. One of his famous quotes: "The meaning life is that it stops."  That phrase caught me by surprise. Especially since I heard it on the latest episode of the The Amazing Race. It made me think how life is so finite and holds only so many moments so I need to make the most of them. 

Or as Steve Miller sang, "time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin into the future". 

We are on the verge of a new season. Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of the Lenten season. Lent (an Old English word for spring) is the forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter.

Lent is the season where we retrace the steps of Jesus as he journeyed under the shadow of the cross toward the climatic events of death, burial and resurrection. Lent is a time to meditate on Jesus’ journey to the cross.

Why does it begin with Ash Wednesday? It is to remind us that like Jesus, we only have so many moments. We are made of dust and ashes. It is a day to consider our own mortality. It begins a journey of discovery. It is something we learn about ourselves. We are fragile. We are frustrated. We are fearful. 

We are also faithful. In the somber light of our own mortality, how shall we live?

Lent is more than a religious ritual. It is a time of reflection. It is a journey of renewal into the heart of what Brian McLaren calls a quest for spiritual formation, reorientation and activation (We Make the Road by Walking). 

What does the eternal One require of me who is destined to die?  Lent calls me to linger there a while.

"Time is the medium in which we live, the thing that separates each heartbeat from the last, the axis against which the distance between birth and death is measured". (Time Passes by Maggie Shipstead). 

Larry Pozza