[Repost] Empty.

A version of this post originally appeared on Ash Wednesday in 2011.

Lent is the season of the church that starts on Ash Wednesday (a week from today) and ends on Easter.

It is dark and somber. Solemn and quiet. Chock full of scripture, tradition and discipline.

Sometimes, especially toward the end, Lent is sad.

And I love it.

A few years ago, via email on Ash Wednesday, a Franciscan friar friend of mine explained the concept of kenosis. It’s the “process of emptying,” he wrote, and it’s “very common in our Christian spirituality.”

Especially during Lent.

Most practicing Roman Catholic Christians fast until dinner on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We abstain from meat on Fridays. Many of us make a 40-day long sacrifice. In past Lents, I’ve given up chocolate, bread, CDs, Facebook. I heard about a guy once who gave up his bed for Lent, and slept on the floor for 40 nights.

When we give up stuff, it puts a new perspective on the difference between the words want and need.

It frees up some of our time and attention.

It eliminates some distraction.

It empties us.

That, the Franciscan friar wrote, is the point.

“In order to let God fill our life, we need to empty it first.”

Here’s to an empty Lent.