Do you know what popular snack was invented for Lent?
Have an idea why Lent is 40 days long? (46 actually. Sundays are not included.)
No journey starts without the willingness to begin.
More than likely you've eaten a few pretzels in your lifetime, but did you know that a young monk baked the first pretzel in the early 600s? He made this new snack with only water, flour, and salt in order to provide some necessary fuel for the Lenten journey - but also fulfill the expectations of abstinence from eggs and milk. Sometimes spirituality is the mother of invention. Not only was the pretzel food for the journey, the typical twist of this baked good was a model for a posture of prayer.
For that young monk, folding the arms over on your chest and lowering your head was a physical way to show your willingness to listen, and to receive God’s presence in prayer. This history and symbolism makes the pretzel a powerful reminder of the meaning of the Season.
During Lent, we recognize the need to be free from self-centered pursuits and behaviors, but we are often still unwilling to begin that journey of letting go. During Lent we willingly set out to reflect on the contradictions between our hopes and our everyday choices, and we try on doing things a little differently. The journey of Lent with its climax on Good Friday and Easter is about accompanying Jesus on the way of developing humility. Jesus’s 40-day journey in the desert and his journey of Holy Week remind us not only of our mortality, but also of the transformation in and through Christ that is the very heart of the Christian life.
Who among us does not long for deeper connection to life? Who does not long for a view of self and the world that liberates us from anxiety and self-centeredness? Who knew that the path to that freedom can begin with lowering your head and crossing your arms, and listening for guidance. Thank you pretzels. This is what the season of Lent is about: learning how to begin again.
MISSIO offers themed-quizzes in MissioBot to examine your religious knowledge - and this blog by James Nagle, PhD to reflect on questions of faith.