Keeping Lent

Yes Lent is a time of repentance, a time when we acknowledge our sinfulness and ask forgiveness for our sins.  It’s also traditionally a time when we “give up” something.  When we deny ourselves a pleasure – and take it up again when Lent has passed.

But how much do we want to focus on denial and on being “a miserable sinner”?  How useful is it?  After all we confess our sins every week and are re-assured that we are absolved of them.  Repentance – literally “re-thinking” – is about letting go and renewing ourselves.

The word Lent also refers to the lengthening of the days and, by implication, to Spring.  To changes in the light, to a time of growth and renewal.  So could we think of “observing” Lent rather than “keeping” it?  Making it a time to stand back a little.  To observe, to notice ourselves, our behaviours and our relationships.  To re-think and renew ourselves.

Growth, renewal and change  are challenging.  They raise questions and sometimes these questions don’t have easy answers.  As we proceed through Lent, could we be content just to let these questions arise and to be with them?  Answers often come from the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways.

“The first challenge of Lent is to open ourselves to life.”  Laurence Freeman, OSB.

Chris Dawson

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