I think a good explanation of Lent is what my church (The Village) published in our Lent Guide:
"Originally a preparation period for those desiring to be baptized, Lent eventually became embedded into Christian tradition as a season for the Church to symbolically follow Christ into the wilderness. It is a time for fasting and self-denial, though not for denial itself. It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the gospel. Whereas Advent is a season of ever-increasing light awaiting the incarnation of Christ, Lent is a season of ever-decreasing light approaching the cross."... "Lent is a reminder that the resurrection only occurred after the crucifixion. Rather than skipping over the ministry and crucifixion of Christ, Lent is a season to prepare ourselves for the joy of Resurrection Sunday as we enter the sorrow and pain which preceded it."The tradition of ashes being placed on the forehead can be a confusing and uncomfortable tradition in today's society. Personally I like the outward expression and sign of mourning, sorrow and repentance of sin. A reminder that, "From dust you were created and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19 - And without Christ we have no hope.
So what will this season of Lent look like for me?
February 22 - April 8, 2012As we (my husband and I along with some other friends) participate the first focus is there will be no alcoholic beverages in this time.
For me this time will also be when I stop several of my medications. I'm not going cold turkey as that would not be responsible for some meds. but I want this Lent season to be a cleansing one. A time to "start over" to renew not only my body but my mind and my spirit.
As we fix our attention to the cross during this time of remembrance "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. " Hebrews 12:2-3