“Lent, a Christian observance, continues all through March. We move from the death and darkness of winter to the new life and light of springtime and Easter.

“The term ‘Lent’ is derived from the old English word for “spring.” In nature, winter and spring seem to struggle for dominance. In Lent, darkness and light struggle. In Lent, we examine and confess our inner darkness. We affirm that God’s light overcomes it.

“I was raised without any real understanding of Lent. For some, negative connotations attach to it — giving something up. Top things people plan to give up: chocolate, alcohol, Twitter, Facebook, soda, coffee and meat.

“Perhaps Lent isn’t so much about forfeiting things in our lives. Maybe it’s a time for formation of our heart and soul. Reordering instead of renouncing. Refocusing… Repenting… Renewal… Returning…

“Henri Nouwen writes, Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want.

“Lent may mean giving something up. It could be a concrete way of renouncing patterns and attachments that have us in their grip. By choosing to fast from some meals, our physical hunger could remind us of our spiritual hunger. Lent may mean taking on something new to draw closer to God. Maybe a new prayer form or spiritual practice to remind us to search for what ultimately satisfies and to not be content with superficial satisfaction.

“Psalm 103 says only God satisfies our desires with good things… May Lent be about satisfying that desire.”

Dorcas McCown
Chaplain Dorcas has served Elkhart General Hospital since 2013.
She can be reached at dmccownbeaconhealthsystem.org or Chaplain’s Office 574.523.3185.