For forty days and forty nights, every year, millions of people around the world are involved in sombre reflection and Lenten observance in something called the Season of Lent.

Last and this year, Lent has been a time of darkness in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Colombia, and Mali all in the midst of war.

While it would be lovely to bypass the Season of Lent, it has its place in the circle of life.  And not just for Christians, for it can serve as a reminder that not everything in the world (or in people’s lives) is happy or cheery or going well. 

There is darkness in situations that can personally envelope people in a shroud of negativity.  An unknown author wrote
“If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies,” echoes the cry of many whose value in society seems to be based on others ‘seeing’ them through the lens of financial status, ability, weight, skin colour, age, political belief, gender, sexuality, religion, etc., rather than ‘seeing them’ through the lens of the soul.

What a different world it would be if, instead of talking negatively,  criticizing, nagging, finding fault, putting others down (not to mention ourselves), we talked about blessings, spoke about the goodness that ‘is’, and expressed gratitude more than we express frustration, criticism.

Perhaps if this were the focus, it might be easier to see people as souls, and not as unemployed, homeless, disabled, addicted,  uneducated, a particular race or colour or religion or age etc.    By adopting such a focus, it could be easier to relate to ‘the other’ as a person of worth, rather than ignore, pity, judge, bully, ridicule or hate them.  It could be easier to see beauty – in others, in our world, within ourselves.

The Season of Lent invites us to metanoia – ‘turn around and focus on a change of heart.’   Some interpret that as ‘repentence.’   I see merit in such interpretation, but my way of encountering the Season of Lent is to focus on change rather than repentence  … to change my heart – about other people – the future – myself – and ask “How can I let light in and truly see?” 

Lent also has a reputation of being a time to ‘give-up’ (‘fast’-from) chocolate, desserts, social media, etc.  I don’t do that. 
My focus is not on “giving up” but on “letting-in.”

Yes, I am following, being aware of the 40 days of Lent but I am not “giving up” something for Lent.  And I am not focusing on repenting for things in the past … I try to do that when I realize the error of my ways and then move on, trusting that I am loved and forgiven. 

Rather, in the Season of Lent, I am choosing to be on the lookout for souls in the lives of all people.

May this Lent be a time of “seeing-souls”.  


The words on the marker found in the gardens/church of St. Just of Roseland ( in Cornwall (Roseland), England (photographer: Marta Swain): “The Lord bless thee and keep thee.  The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee.  The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.”  (Numbers 6: 24-26) are a gentle reminder of an ancient hope and blessing that has comforted millions throughout the centuries and continues to do so in these difficult days of today.

© June Maffin
Photo: © Marta Swain –  used with permission