The meaning of Lent is, at minimum, trichotomous. In modern Christianity, it represents the forty days in which Jesus fasted in the desert before entering Jerusalem and the subsequent trouble therein. Etymologically, Lent is Germanic, representing the onset of spring and the lengthening of the sunlit day. But to me, the most interesting facet of Lent is how it reflects the forty days of repentance given to the Old Testament city of Nineveh after being presented with Jonah’s prophecy of destruction. In this story, Jonah, the reluctant prophet, describes to the people of Nineveh the wrath of the divine. (And probably what the inside of a really big fish smells like.)

After those forty days, God spared Nineveh.

I guess in Lent, I feel a lot like Jonah, waiting for the divine miracle or sign, maybe not necessarily the resurrection of Christ or the rain of fire which might had been in store for Nineveh. Or maybe God isn’t in the miracles (or the small, daily miracles) but in the details, the forty days which are marked as special not by a miracle, but at the miraculous lack of one. To me, Lent isn’t just about those forty days, but every other day of the year that frame our (possibly not so good) relationship with the divine.


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