Living Lent with Purpose
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word “lencten”, which means “spring”. Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.
Spring is the period of time between the vernal equinox, which falls around March 21 each year, and the summer solstice, which takes place every year on or around June 21. Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. When it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. At the spring equinox, days and nights are approximately twelve hours long, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses.
Two methods are most commonly used to define the dates of the seasons: the astronomical definition and the meteorological definition. According to the meteorological definition, the seasons begin on the first day of the months that include the equinoxes and solstices: spring runs from March 1 to May 31; summer runs from June 1 to August 31; fall (autumn) runs from September 1 to November 30; and winter runs from December 1 to February 28 (February 29 in a leap year).
The question which definition to use divides countries and regions around the world. For example, Australia and New Zealand use the meteorological definition, so spring begins on September 1 each year. In many other countries, both definitions are used, depending on the context. Ireland uses an ancient Celtic calendar system to determine the seasons, so spring begins on St Brigid’s Day on February 1st. Some cultures, especially those in South Asia have calendars that divide the year into six seasons, instead of the four that most of us are familiar with. In Finland and Sweden, the dates of the seasons are not based on the calendar at all, but on temperatures. Here, spring officially begins when the average temperature rises above 0 °C (32 °F). This means that the seasons within each county start and end on different dates, depending on the regions and their climate.
Seth Adam Smith wrote “Our lives are a journey. As we move forward, we will not only figuratively experience the geography of life: the exhilaration of high mountains, the tranquility of calm meadows, the isolation of treacherous canyons, but we will also experience the seasons of life: the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, the harvest of autumn, and yes, the darkness and depression of winter.”
In the book “Voyage to happiness”, Sanchita Pandey penned “Even nature has hidden lessons for mankind underneath its silent saga. The trees teach us to give without discrimination, the seasons proclaim that time keeps changing for the better and the vastness of the sky bears the amount of love we should hold in our hearts for everyone we come across throughout the day.”
In “The Seasons of Life” by Jim Rohn , the author parallels life and the changing seasons speaking of the importance in realizing that the seasons will change without fail and in what we can do to utilize each seasons to get the greatest rewards. It is basically based on the parable of the sower and the reaper: What to do in one season, to ensure success in another season; great for those who are going thru difficult times personally or financially, because it helps them see that this “winter” in their life will eventually give way to “”spring”.
Lent is often considered a time to sacrifice and it can be when that which is sacrificed has true meaning. Others see it as a time for improvement. Spring is a time of rebirth while, in the southern hemisphere it is a time for putting things to rest. Perhaps the Lenten season is really both of those things – a time for new beginnings and a time of saying goodbye to things no longer needed. Most of us hang on to beliefs and griefs far too long and are hesitant to try new things. Perhaps Lent is the time for laying to rest the past and embracing the future.
If you are reading this, then you awoke this morning. That is a simple fact but sometimes we need to be reminded of that. We are present in today and we need to honor that with purpose. We need to wake ourselves up and live the next twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes with intention, making those minutes and hours have a purpose. Then our faith will have meaning, our living will bear fruit, and our Lenten season will bear witness to a brighter tomorrow. When we truly live the purpose of Lent we will experience an Easter within our soul.
Somewhere on Easter Sunday a small child will find a hidden egg and open it, marveling at the mystery of life and the joy of discovery. May we all experience such a magical introduction to tomorrow. That, perhaps, is the true meaning of Lent – not a time of sacrifice or self-denial but the first step on the true adventure of living a life of faith, joyfully and with confidence and intention in tomorrow.