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The Season of Lent

Ash Wednesday marks the season of Lent, a forty-day solemn period of faith, reflection, and sacrifice which culminates on Easter, one of the two holiest days of the Christian faith (the other being Christmas, of course). The number forty is not a random choice: the earth flooded for 40 days and 40 nights while Noah, his family, and a pair of every species floated safely on his ark; after fleeing the Egyptians, Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years and at some point, Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights in Mount Sinai communing with God; Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days and 40 nights before David defeated Goliath; Elijah fled from Jezebel for 40 days and 40 nights; after three days and three nights in the belly of a whale for shirking God’s command, Jonah gave the city of Nineveh 40 days to repent (which they did); and Jesus was tempted by the Devil for 40 days and 40 nights while fasting.

The number 40 signals spiritual significance, and all of these examples involve a 40 day and 40 nights time-out of personal reflection, contemplation, and prayer. For 40 days and 40 nights, Christian believers sacrifice something (in the past, it was often fasting, but in modern times, the sacrifice is more of a personal choice, usually involving a vice). This 40-day period is meant to prepare the self for Easter when Jesus rises from the dead three days after his crucifixion.

For Lent, I am giving up writing. Yes, writing. Between now and Easter, I will be taking a break from writing in my blog. This is a pause (I will be back), but this break is purposeful and intentional.

Writing is like talking as in it’s an output. When you write or talk, you are putting yourself out to the receivers, whether it’s in conversation with another person or in my case, the readers of my blog. What I hope to obtain from this period is building my input. As I meditate, as I seek those moments of quiet contemplation, I often find myself filling up the noise in my head with thoughts. Instead of receiving and listening, I am thinking about what I’m going to say next (either in conversation, prayer, or writing). I want to focus on the deliberate intention of listening to God’s will in my life instead of always trying to drive the conversation, including real-life conversations with my loved ones.

Giving up writing for Lent was not my initial intention. If it were, I would’ve posted this on Ash Wednesday. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, I found myself for the first time in years with a loss of words. This wasn’t writer’s block. There was an internal voice within me saying, “Shhh… Just listen.” At first, I fought it. I’d write, annoyed that what I was writing was gibberish, and then again ignored the sibilant crescendo rising. Mind over matter, I muttered to myself, increasingly annoyed with the sudden difficulty in writing. For Lent, I meal planned for fish on Fridays, intended to give up sodas altogether for Lent (and beyond), and continue with the church. I was proud of my daily blog posting streak (156 posts in a row). Yet, I could not ignore this inner voice that demanded I just stop and listen. So I did and will continue to do so.

I still have writing to do. I’m in my last semester of grad school and I have hard deadlines for papers that I will meet. If I feel moved to do so, I will journal privately. But my intention for the remainder of Lent is to quiet my mind and simply listen. What is God trying to say? What is the universe saying? With the people that I love, I intend to focus on what they are trying to say and truly listen. I will intently listen to my loved ones and in hopes that they feel heard, validated, and loved. For the remainder of Lent, I plan to simply listen.


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