Going into the roots: Letting an alternative practice of Lent change you

Going into the roots: Letting an alternative practice of Lent change you July 11, 2022

A few years ago, I created a practice that brought Lent to life for me—a new way to commemorate or practice the season. You see, for me, Lenten imagery is strikingly about the darkness and dormancy preceding Easter, like the darkness and dormancy of winter that precedes Spring. A plant goes dormant in wintertime, but it does not die. In fact, the nourishment of winter is essential to its growth. Winter is when roots are strengthened, made ready for the coming vitality. The imagery and symbolism of Lent also points to the tomb, to the time between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, when something mysterious happens. We don’t know quite what that mystery was, but the lacuna of the tomb prepared the way—the way for Easter, for the Jesus Movement.

So too, in Lent, we go deep into the roots, into a time of mystery and tomb, into nourishment and dormancy. For me, thinking of Lent as a time to focus on ‘sinfulness’ and giving things up as a kind of penance, didn’t resonate like thinking of Lent as a time to delve deep into the roots of a thing. Anticipating Lent, I started to ask: How do I want to go deeper this year? What calls me into a practice of deeper reflection?

{Photo by Peter Jantsch for Scopio}

The first year, I landed on quantum physics. I wanted to understand it a bit more. I wanted to delve deeper than I previously had into understanding the fundamental workings of the universe. So instead of ‘giving something up’ for Lent, I added something. Every few days I’d listen to an interview, audiobook, or lecture by a quantum physicist. It was a plunge, and it was fascinating. However cursorily, I nourished the roots of my understanding about this area of science; and some of what I learned permanently changed my view of myself, this world, and how the Divine works within it.

Last year for my Lenten practice I landed on music. I wanted to dive more deeply into relating to music, appreciating music in a way that impacted me profoundly. For Lent, I created new playlists and spent time music-listening in a new way—letting music wash over me and work its way in me. From that time on, my relationship to music has changed. I’m more likely to take time to hear music, to let it impact me in a way that’s therapeutic or emotional or spiritual—instead of simply playing music in the background of my life.

This year for Lent I’ll dive more deeply into being with nature. Not being in nature because I’m doing something else, such as taking a walk or praying or soaking in my hot tub. But for Lent, taking a little time—at least a few times a week—to sit in nature and simply be. To let nature work in me deeply, in a new way, to listen to what it might say.

The liturgical world has a long tradition of ‘giving something up’ for Lent in a penitential sort of way1—and this can be helpful. If it resonates for you, I recommend it. But this year I encourage you to consider an alternate way of thinking about Lent, especially if this way impacts you more: thinking of Lent as a time to go deep into the roots of a thing. Ask, What do I want to experience more deeply? What might I use this Lenten time to know on a deeper level, so I can be nourished and changed by it?

And then, let it change you.

WREN: Winner of a 2022 Independent Publishers Award Bronze Medal.

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad