Lenctening days

No, that’s not a typo.

Recently I learned that the word “Lent” comes from the Old English ‘lencten,’ which sounds a lot like “lengthen” and, not incidentally, was the Old English word for Spring–-that time when the days, well, lengthen.

Despite the admiration I’ve always had for traditional Lenten disciplines, this time of year–-when I forget to start dinner on time because the growing evening light tricks me, when I’m drawn from sleep by the unexpected brightness of the morning sun–-this time of year tends to make me a bit giddy. Meditating on dust returning to dust seems opposite to how I feel when spring is, well, lenctening. Springing.

But maybe that’s reasonable. Lent is the season where deadness springs to life: snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils cautiously raise their green and brilliant heads, stoic strawberry leaves unfold and tentatively sent out runners, tired, swollen goats bend to release their burdens in bringing forth light-footed young.

At this time everything in nature seems to be stretching and yawning awake after a long sleep, lively after months of sluggish drowsing.

Maybe Lent serves as a counterpoint to all this; a reminder that even as the grass “flourishes and is renewed” in the morning, “in the evening it fades and withers.” That God alone is everlasting.

It’s a sobering thought, but somehow, a joyful one. And so I hope this Lent not to curtail or cut back but to lencten: to take joy and satisfaction in God and in God’s gift of each lengthening, springing, light-filled moment.

Originally posted at Eat With Joy!

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Lenctening days

Curious to know what it is like to experience Lent (and Advent) "down under" when the natural season and the liturgical season are out of synch from a Northern hemisphere point of view


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