In the Christian calendar, today marks Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the observance of Lent. It is the first day of an extended period of prayer, sacrifice and charity.
When I was young, and before I started going to church on a regular basis, I thought of Lent as a ritual that was specific to the Catholic Church.
Like so much about what I thought I knew about Christianity, I was in error.
I have since learned that Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans as well as some Baptists and other denominations observe Lent or at least make acknowledgement of its appearance in the liturgical year.
“Lent” is a word that came into use during the Middle Ages when church services began to be held in the everyday language of the common people. It comes from the Old English word for “spring,” and this meaning is derived from an even older German root for “long” because spring is when the days are noticeably longer.