Lent is associated among other things with the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying and discovering what God was asking of him. Those forty days in the desert became a great image that controlled the sense of the pre-Easter fast, that pre-Easter preparation. Lent is a time then of wilderness and wandering, solitude and prayer and what it means to be dependant upon God.
The word 'Lent' comes from the old English word for 'spring'. It's not about feeling gloomy for forty days; it's not about making yourself miserable for forty days; it's not even about giving things up for forty days. Lent is springtime. It's preparing for that great climax of springtime which is Easter – new life bursting through death. And as we prepare ourselves for Easter during these days, by prayer and by self-denial, what motivates us and what fills the horizon is not self-denial as an end in itself but trying to sweep and clean the room of our own minds and hearts so that the new life really may have room to come in and take over and transform us at Easter. (Rowan Williams)
Another image of wilderness/desert is that it is a silent place, things sound different. I title this focus ‘Into the silent land’ for it is in that more contemplative place of silence that, even when we are dis-comforted, that we learn to listen more for God; it is a barren place where growth is seen as difficult and delicate. Looking at this as metaphor for our ‘barren’ aspects and places of life one writer speaks of the ‘the irrigation of divine grace’ that causes new life to come forth.
In the Celtic, especially Irish, way of seeing such matters, the ultimate point of spiritual wandering was to 'seek the place of one's resurrection'. This involved seeking to enter the Kingdom of God more easily by means of living in the world as a stranger for Christ's sake. The 'place of resurrection' was the place appointed by God for the particular wanderer to settle and spend the remaining years of life doing penance and waiting for death.(Philip Sheldrake in Living Between Worlds Place and Journey in Celtic Spirituality.