Yes, it’s the simple past tense of “lend” but when capitalized, the word, “Lent” denotes a liturgical season—40 days preceding Easter. During this time some Christians observe fasting; some don’t. But for all, it's reflective time.
I’ve been reflecting on Lent, trying to be mindful in observing this time of spiritual preparation, turning the word inside out to extract new meaning from it. In the process, I’ve landed here—Lent = time loaned.
No, this is not the blog post in which I disclose that I have a terminal illness. I don’t. But keep reading, nonetheless. What I have is a new realization of the brevity, the fragility and sanctity of life. This urgency to live fully each moment began the very day I heard news of the war in Ukraine and it has followed me into Lent.
As I observe Lent through prayer, daily readings of selected Scriptures and Lenten devotionals--short prose pieces on themes related to Lent, I find myself slowing down to honour time. I’m taking deep breaths when I sit at my computer and longer deeper breaths when I get up and go for a block walk. I’m living as if all time is time loaned, lent to me—precious. Last week on one of my morning walks I saw a bush full of raindrops suspended on bare brown twigs. Melting snow in motion. Gone in less than an hour. The raindrops reminded me of both beauty and mortality. I paused. I pondered. I kept walking.
Carpe diem is my new Lent mantra.
On Sunday the clocks moved forward one hour. I'm surprised how quickly I’ve already adjusted by today, Tuesday, to that “loss” of one hour. It meant I could have been getting up that extra hour earlier all along. Maybe I would have seen more sunrises or dewdrops and heard more birdsongs. All time is loaned time.
Lent= time loaned to prepare for Easter—commemoration of Jesus’ last days on earth. Poignant and powerful, the details do not make a pretty story, not until the very last surprise ending at the empty tomb. It’s messy. It’s bloody. It involves betrayal, a botched arrest, an unfair midnight trial and murder of an innocent man on trumped up charges. But Easter invites one to reflect on the meaning of love and loss, sorrow and joy, death and life.
This Lent there is the backdrop of war in the Ukraine. We see the terrifying, heartbreaking images daily: the airstrikes raining fire and debris on civilians, the long lines of refugees fleeing, an old man walking unsteadily across a makeshift plank of a bridge, water swirling below him, mothers with infants in their arms… We are reminded how easily, how quickly life can change from a secure to a precarious existence in which survival is at best, uncertain.
So Lent = time loaned to ponder today and prepare for tomorrow, for Easter, for spring, for the time after Omicron, for the rest of time on this planet. May you be mindful of sacred time this Lent. As you do, may I invite you to check out the Easter Crossings exhibit of art and poetry depicting stations of the cross in downtown and mid-town Toronto. Go to www.crossingstoronto.com