Looking into Lent

I like the Greek word Metanoia.  Say it out loud and you can stretch the sound, especially of the last two syllables.  It also has an expansive meaning.  In fact it has several meanings, depending on context.  There’s even a pop group called Metanoia. 

In a religious context, Metanoia means a transformative change of heart and mind.  It means considering something and coming to see things differently.  It means coming to new understandings, taking action and making changes.  A rethink.  A form of repentance.

Repentance is, of course, one of the themes of Lent.  As is giving something up, denying ourselves some pleasure for the forty days.  Often something quite trivial, which, come Easter, we can indulge in again.   But repentance and self-denial could lead to something more profound.

“Giving up” something for Lent holds great possibilities.  It could be about giving up our stance on anything.  We could ask ourselves what areas of our life could do with a re-think, a letting go, a renewal.  The answer may not come straight away.  Just sitting with the question is powerful in itself.

Lent has so often come to be associated with a time of restriction rather than growth and expansion.  But that is not its origin. It comes from the Old English word “lencten”, with its obvious connection with “lengthen”.  And so it means Spring, a time of lengthening days and more light.  A time of renewal.  A time for Metanoia.

Chris Dawson

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