Forty is a number that emerges a number of times in our Scriptures. Forty days and nights Noah is in the ark; forty years Moses spends in Midian as a shepherd; forty years Israel wanders in the wilderness; and Jesus spends forty days in the wilderness following his baptism in the Jordan. In each case we are confronted with this number, 40.
In each instance the subject is in a period of waiting. Noah, Moses, Israel, and Jesus all face this time of preparation by waiting, reflecting, repenting, and being renewed for what is to come. It is a necessary transitional time—between here and there—that is to ready those waiting for a new thing, a new beginning, a new chapter.
Lent reflects all of that. It is a period of forty days (not counting Sundays) beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, or Easter. It is during this time that we attempt to rid our lives of distractions and our surplus to enter a time in the wilderness and all that entails: facing ourselves, God, temptation, simplicity, and demanding faith. It is a time we await the celebration to come but soberly ensure we are following Jesus and taking up our own cross as he instructs.
Will we enter into this time to wander in the wilderness to listen to our lives? To simplify our days, that we might be less distracted and more attentive to God’s presence and promptings in our everyday? Will we take time to be pruned and purified, growing more and more into the likeness of the One we claim to follow? Will you wait and keep a blessed Lent?