Lenten Hibernation

I found myself fascinated by an article in the National Wildlife Federation magazine this week. It was an article about how animals, birds, and insects adapt to cold weather. They use varied and creative strategies to protect themselves from harm.

The monarch butterfly migrates long distances to warm climates. Insects, along with some fish and amphibians, produce an antifreeze that drops their blood’s freezing point. There is even a snow fly that can detect when one of its legs have come in contact with frozen ground for too long and can self-amputate the limb before the ice reaches its trunk.

Then there is the strategy called hibernation. Bats, groundhogs, box turtles, and of course, bears hibernate. Some hibernate completely, others enter a state called torpor. Torpor is the state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility. Insensibility is defined as the lack of awareness or concern; indifference

I think hibernation is going to be my strategy this Lent with a little torpor thrown in for good measure.

The thought of slowing down and going deep underground with God seems very appealing. Becoming mentally inactive with partial insensibility sounds just like how I want to spend the weeks leading up to Easter. I see tremendous benefit in having a lack of awareness, and indifference to, the distractions that plague me. Hibernating from anxiety, fear, worry, self-pity, impatience, and my ego sounds delightful. Holing up with God and spending more time in prayer and quiet listening is exactly what I need to keep me safe from those outside forces that want to cause me harm.

If we can slow down the part of our brains that fill us with negative and harmful thoughts, we will have more mental space for God to fill with His wisdom and His reassurances. Spending weeks in a state of suspended animation, slowness, and ease allows for a greater awareness of God’s presence. It fortifies us, so that when it’s time to come out of our cave on Easter, we are renewed and rested. We are infused with new life which is what Easter is all about.

We have a few days before Lent starts which gives us time to develop our strategy for how to make this year’s Lenten season truly transformational. I suggest you join me and any groundhogs you might know in hibernating.

See you in April,

Since we have our minds on creation and nature, it’s a perfect time to share a unique Lenten experience being offered by Kate Burke and the Waukesha County Creation Care Network. Please take time to read Kate’s invitation below and consider taking her reflections with you as you hibernate this Lent.

Lent is coming up soon and I’d be honored if you would consider using the scriptural reflections I wrote as a part of your Lenten journey. Each includes one Bible passage from either Ash Wednesday or the Sunday reading, my own reflection tying the passage to creation care, and questions for your own reflection. You probably know that I am passionate about environmental issues and how they connect us all to each other and to God. This has invigorated my faith for years, and I want to invite you to share in that experience. Feel free to share this with others as well.

These reflections are one component of a program called “Walking through Lent with our Creator” that will be offered through the Waukesha County Creation Care Network. The other 2 components include an opportunity to fast from plastic and an evening zoom discussion on 2/12 of selected quotations from Laudate Deum, a document about creation care that Pope Francis recently wrote to all people of good will. If you register at wcccn.org, you can get the scriptural reflections in your email inbox one at a time and/or participate in the other components of the program.


Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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