Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lent: The Springtime of our Faith

Well, even though when we look outdoors, we don't immediately see the signs of it, yesterday was the first day of Spring. This got me thinking a bit about our Lenten journey of faith towards Easter.

Not many people know where the word Lent comes from, but it has a strong Springtime connection. When we usually define the word Lent, we think of it wholely in its contemporary context. Lent is the period of 40 days befor Easter devoted to the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But, the actual word has a much more specific lineage.

The word "Lent" comes to us from the Old English equivalent of "lengten." It later became "lenten" in Middle English. The modern equivalent of this word today would be "lengthen." The word was a reference to the time of year when the days would lengthen or get longer; including more and more daylight each day. This is a very long way of saying Springtime.

And so, if Lent is understood as a religious term, then it is the religious equivalent of Spring. So, Lent is a Springtime of faith for we who believe. So, what does that mean? Well, it means that God has written His Gospel on creation itself - after all isn't our annual cycle of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter really telling the story of the Gospel? The very Seasons proclaim life (Spring), abudance and growth (Summer), death (Fall and Winter) - only to be followed by resurrection as Spring comes around again.

So, too, our faith journey often follows the same pattern. We too find ourselves being born into faith; that faith often goes through great periods of growth and abundance; and also true is that we reach those dry patches where our faith can sometimes be rocky or even feel as though it isn't there. And God always promises us resurrection. Our faith can always be reborn. And this is what Lent offers us each year - a way to tend to the garden of our faith, the nurture it, to prune it, to allow for the possibility of new life once again. This is the Easter joy our prayers so often speak of in this joyful season of Lent.

My prayer today is that God will continue to "Lengthen" your faith so that it may be renewed, reborn and produce abundant spiritual fruit in your life.

Happy Spring! Happy Lent!

Pax et bonum!

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