Even if a person does not observe Lent, the themes are universal and necessary :
Sometimes the etymology of a word can be helpful. Linguistically, lent is derived from an old English word meaning springtime. In Latin, lente means slowly. Etymologically, then, lent points to the coming of spring and it invites us to slow down our lives so as to be able to take stock of ourselves.
Lent has always been understood as a time to metaphorically spend forty days in the desert unprotected by normal nourishment so as to have to face “Satan” and the “wild animals” and see whether the “angels” will indeed come and look after us when we reach that point where we can no longer look after ourselves. For us, “Satan” and “wild animals” refer particularly to the chaos inside of us that normally we either deny or simply refuse to face – our paranoia, our anger, our jealousies, our distance from others, our fantasies, our grandiosity, our addictions, our unresolved hurts…. The normal food that we eat – distracted ordinary life – works to shield us from the deeper chaos that lurks beneath the surface of our lives.
Lent invites us to stop eating whatever protects us from having to face the desert that is inside of us. It invites us to feel our smallness, to feel our vulnerability, to feel our fears, and to open ourselves up the chaos of the desert so that we can finally give the angels a chance to feed us. That’s the ideal of lent, to face one’s chaos.
Ron Rolheiser, Entering Lent
photo: Another believer