I have tried to sort through my memories as to why I used to think of Lent this way. I suppose part of it was that as a child I associated it only with “giving up” things and the anticipation of the fun of hunting for Easter eggs when that joyous day rolled around.
What finally snapped me out of it was a conversation with a Jesuit friend of mine here at Creighton who pointed out to me that Lent is actually a word for “Spring.” As I pondered that fact, it finally occurred to me that I had been doing Lent all wrong. Of course abstaining from something is a good thing, but only if it really helps our spirits “spring” into Easter. The long slow rise of my spirit from Ash Wednesday to Easter is part of my re-growth process each year. Like the new green shoots appearing on plants in early spring, Lent is a sort of process of pruning and re-growth. What I really need to give up are the things that push me away from God. So even if we get a late start on Lent, there’s still a chance to turn in our late “homework” (as I used to think of it) and begin again. It’s never too early, and it’s never too late.
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