Lengthen the Light

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Lengthen the Light

Elizabeth Henry

Day 1 of 7: Lengthen

The season of Lent refers to the forty days (excluding Sundays, with each considered its own little Easter of sorts) leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday in the Christian year. Each spring, Christians of a variety of traditions all over the world take this time to refocus on faith. In the United States, this often comes in the form of cutting out distractions by giving up things like social media or wine—in a sort of do-over on New Year’s Resolutions—or by taking on more extreme measures, like refraining from eating any food at all for a set period or from consuming certain foods or drinks for the entire forty days. For many, this time of literal or spiritual fasting serves precisely the purpose intended, of drilling things down to essentials to make space for experiencing God in more intentional ways.

In my own experience, this kind of fasting often became a sneaky way to feed an eating disorder that really didn’t need any more encouragement. So I began to look for alternative ways of celebrating this holy season, and I found teachers who encouraged me to add rather than to take away. I looked into how this whole Lenten season began anyway, and I discovered that the name comes from a Germanic root word meaning to lengthen, supposedly in reference to the way the days get longer and longer in the spring leading up to the Spring Equinox. Early Christians set the date of Easter (when we remember the story of Jesus returning to life from death and claim that God is still doing that—still breathing life into things we thought long lost) to align with the Equinox, the first day of the season that brings crops back to life. The first day of resurrection.

With this history in mind, then, my Lenten practice this year will not be to fast, but to lengthen. To lean into the light. Over the next week, you’re invited to do the same. With each day, we’ll reflect on an opportunity to lengthen the light in our days, offering a practice or two with each that you may choose to carry with you through this Lenten season when we journey together towards the great light.

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