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Letters to Corinne

40 Winks, 40 Days, 40 Years: What’s so special about 40?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

What’s so special about 40?

Dear Corinne,

As I considered the season of Lent, I found myself pondering on the concept of 40 days and realised that there are a number of occasions where 40 days or 40 years crops up in the Bible.

It is not just Jesus in the wilderness, after his baptism and Moses receiving the ten commandments on Mount Horeb! There were others for whom 40 days/years was significant. Knowing your penchant for numbers I thought we might look at this together over the coming weeks!

Let’s start with 40 winks…but not literally!! There are mixed views on the origin and exact meaning of this expression, but the consensus is that it refers to a brief daytime sleep. While I do not think it is so widely used these days, there is no doubt that our non-stop and complex lifestyles result in tiredness and weariness.

I resonate with the issue of tiredness, as there have been seasons in my life when I have felt resoundingly like the dormouse at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, in Alice in Wonderland! Reflecting back on these times, I see that not only were there a variety of factors which precipitated the tiredness, but also that there were different types of tiredness involved.

Whether the tiredness was physical, emotional or spiritual its effect was a challenge. I found the way through involved making sure there was a better balance in my life between work, relationships, rest, play and silence/solitude.

Sleeping was never the problem…just staying awake! I discovered the importance of taking naps and their restorative impact! In fact there is now a growing body of research which is highlighting this and some large corporations provide facilities for their employees to take a nap – e.g Google’s Energy Pods

This time of year is often cold and grey here in the UK. The hours of daylight are shorter. As nature slows down over the winter months and some animals hibernate, we too feel drawn to staying inside, preferably next to a roaring log fire and keeping warm! It is natural to slow down at this time of year.
It is, maybe, a season to allow ourselves to do this and to be more restful. Slowing down and taking time to engage with the season of Lent.

With hindsight, I can see that the Easters where I experienced the most joy, were those which were preceded by my taking the season of Lent seriously and having a clear plan for its observance.

So I would like to suggest that you begin by reflecting on how you have journeyed through this 40 day season in the past.

  • What have you enjoyed, and appreciated about Lent?
  • How have you used this time devotionally, to prepare for Easter?
  • What have you found difficult?
  • How have you encountered God during this season?
  • How has God broken into your busyness and routines, during Lent to show you fresh signs of his love and forgiveness?

I would encourage you to make a note of your responses in your journal.

In the light of your responses about previous seasons of Lent, how would you like to mark the season this year and what strategies/activities can you put in place to achieve these?

Are there any creative activities you can engage in during this season?

Take some time to be still and lay out your proposed activities/actions/strategies/ideas, before God and listen for his perspective on them.  Then gather the resources you require and be ready to start, on Ash Wednesday!

I look forward to hearing of your plan for Lent this year!


with love,


Written by Dorinda Miller; © D Miller 2016. For full credits please see the site credits page
This letter is from the series: '40 Winks, 40 Days, 40 Years'