The Forty Day Challenge: Entering Lent as a Writer
Easter is coming, and for many of my Christians and Catholics, that means Lenten season began about two weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, beginning a period of fasting, prayer, and penitence in preparation for the joy of Easter – the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But Lent is a lot more than an individual’s sacrifices. The 40-day period is meant for introspection and reflection. It is a time to serve others and connect through prayer and solace. The act of fasting practices self-control and sacrifice; abstaining from luxuries (chocolate, meat, etc.) is to connect internally with your faith. It draws a parallel to the 40-day period when Jesus fasted in the wilderness in preparation for crucifixion. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops write: “We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.”
But, there is something here that we writers, practicing Christians or not, could take away from the Lenten season and its traditions.
The word Lent is Anglo-Saxon in origin, meaning “lengthen,” referring to the longer days in Spring. What if writers used these lengthening days, these 40 days of reflection, connection and introspection, to connect with their voice, interests and reason? Would, perhaps, writing would become more nuanced and authentic?
For a writer, Lent could be a good time to be able to step back from the hectic nature of life and allow ourselves to grow through our writing. By pouring ourselves out on paper, we can further discover ourselves.
For more established writers, Lent could also be a time to truly step down from the top shelf of the bookstores and help indie authors sake the step upward through the literary jungle. Lent is a time to selflessly give of our own time and effort. What better way to do this than to use it to help others further advance in our careers.
Writers, both Christians and Catholics alike, are given 40-Days for intentional mission to, in a sense, accompany Jesus through his 40-days in the desert. During this time, we may make personal sacrifices in order to make time for what truly maters. By fasting from [you fill in the blank], we are called fast for [God, family, friends, etc.].
I have to admit, I was not raised in a very religious household. My father is Christian, my mother is Jewish, and I consider myself spiritually curious. That really just means that I am very interested in many religions, and that I try to stay open to the beauty in different teachings, but I love the idea that someone is reading the term spiritually curious and rolling their eyes. Throughout my childhood, I celebrated the modern, westernized versions of each religion’s holidays, but Lent was a vague concept that I never learned about.
I knew there was an annual period of time that my Catholic friend Sarah would swear she was giving up soda, or gum, or some other habit like it was some New Year’s resolution that even she knew wouldn’t last. And of course, it never did last, but we were teenagers, and Sarah’s weak commitment to Lent was more about Sarah’s teenager-like love of junk food than a deliberate defiance of religion. I also heard that you weren’t supposed to eat meat on Fridays, and that some people fast for over a month. Lent was like this cool, mysterious foreign exchange student that I had heard rumors about, but never met face to face.
Upon learning the history of Lent – upon meeting the famous foreign exchange student – I’ve accepted its beautiful and sacred traditions, (mind you, I am not a member of a church, just a fan of inner work and faith). As a writer, however, I intend to use the remaining days before Easter to look inward, beyond the imposter syndrome and insecurities, and draw out my connection to this chosen profession.
A Note from our CEO
Growing up Catholic, Lent has always been an annual season in my household. However, this is not to say that it has always been mundane and monotonously the same. Rather, each Lenten season, I find myself rediscovering my relationship with Christ and learning the truth about His great sacrifice. Lent is a season of preparation and growth as we prepare ourselves to emerge into the Easter season. For me, this emergence has always had a special place in my heart as it is through the joy of Easter that we can truly live in His light and love one another. However, this season of joy would not be possible without a season of waiting. This Lent, on behalf of the Muñoz Publishing House, we would like to invite you all to truly utilize Lent as a time to prepare your manuscripts, yourself, and most importantly your faith. Through learning and developing your relationship, you can grow to emerge into the joy of Easter. And, perhaps also the future joy of publication. Remember, God meets you where you are at.
From all of us at the Muñoz Publishing House, have a blessed Lenten season.
Nathaniel A. Muñoz
CEO & Founder