Lent is actually my favorite liturgical season. Yes, Christmas is nice, and Easter has wonderful music, but Lent has its own characteristics that make it special too. Being raised with both Southern Baptist and Episcopal beliefs and values, I was a little more than confused about the whole "Lent" thing for quite a while. For years the beginning of Lent simply meant I gave up something I loved for forty days, because "that's what you do in Lent". It was also the time of year when my brother and I looked forward to going to a very public place after the Ash Wednesday service so we could count how many weird looks we got because of the black smudges on our foreheads. Long story short, I didn't get it. Over the years however, I have come to fully appreciate Lent and all that it stands for.
Something that really helped me in the process of understanding Lent was the program Godly Play. It's a Montessori based children's program through the Episcopal Church. Just this week I got to tell the "Mystery of Easter" story in the younger's room (three and four year-olds). They were enthralled. The story gives a simple, yet excellent definition of Lent, "Lent helps us to get ready. It is a time to know more about the One who is Easter. It is also a time to learn more about who we really are." The time of Lent does give me time to think about who I am. I ask myself questions like, "What do I stand for? What things in my life could I improve on? What things am I doing right?" Not that any person can conquer all their problems in forty days, but having this time set aside, which is specifically dedicated to the meditation and reflection of our lives does help further me in my spiritual journey.
Now for my favorite part of Lent, the changing of the colors. The color of Lent is purple, which is the color of kings, and we're getting ready for the coming of a king. Purple is also a serious color, because something serious is going to happen. The color of Easter is white. You see, as we approach Easter, "The color of getting ready, becomes the color of pure celebration." The end of the Godly Play story goes like this, "The sad seriousness and the happiness join together and make joy." I love happy endings like this, they make all the sad parts worth it, just like the process of Lent. So even though we go through this serious time, in the end, we are better people because of it. I'm eager to see how I far I will go, and how much I will change this Lenten season, and I can't wait for Easter morning when I will hear the words, "Alleluia. Christ is risen." and I will have the privilege of enthusiastically responding, "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia."