Learning To Love Lent

We are almost halfway through Lent and I cannot help but reflect on whether this year is any different for me. 

I have to admit, Lent often catches me by surprise. Whenever I hear the announcement for Ash Wednesday, my first thought is ‘already?’, followed by ‘what should I do this year?’

When I was younger, I always viewed Lent with a lack of enthusiasm. After all, what was there to look forward to? At the time, it felt like Lent was nothing more than 40 days of deprivation because I was usually told to give up something I liked but I didn’t feel like it brought me any closer to God. All I could focus on was pining for whatever I had decided to sacrifice, whether it was chocolates or fast food or whatever. 

I have been slow to understand that sacrifice is not necessarily about suffering or deprivation, and the gentle words of our priests have made Lent this year different for me, beginning with Fr Mitchell’s call for us to enter the desert with Jesus, so that we can examine and overcome our weaknesses. 

The analogy here is poetic – I used to think of Lent as a dreary, lifeless obligation, much like a desert where there is nothing but sand, with no other option but to trudge through it. In truth however, the desert is full of life if you only know where to look for it. Likewise, Lent is full of beauty and meaning if we only look for it, and we are called to ‘be the change we want to see’ through acts of mercy, charity and prayer. 

As for weakness, human nature is nothing if not weak and riddled with imperfections. We are capable of amazing things, but we are often impatient, quick to judge, rude, easily angered, resentful, full of pride, hurtful and unforgiving. And yet, in spite of all these flaws, God loves us anyway and it is so easy to forget that, when we are called to pray for others, to practice compassion and to forgive one another, that we also do the same for ourselves. Every kindness and blessing we pray for, for others, we also deserve for ourselves. 

We are still in the desert now and instead of a dreary obligation, I’m starting to see it as a privilege to travel with Jesus. I wish I’d come to this realization sooner, but perhaps that has always been His plan, for us to simply journey with Him. 

Have a blessed Lent.

Written by:
A child of Good Shepherd