Is the 40 days of Lent symbolic of the 40 days of the temptation of Christ? If not, can you tell me what the 40 days of Lent symbolize and perhaps suggest some scripture references? -- Carol F.
You are right that the 40-day period of Lent is chosen because of the 40 days of Jesus' temptations. The 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, however, reflect the Jewish calendar, which had fifty days between Passover and the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
Thorns were indeed used for hedges, and also for fuel, in Biblical times (see Judg. 9.14-15; Ps. 58.9; Hos. 10.8; Mk. 15.16-18). But the phrase "a hedge of thorns" is also used metaphorically in a text like Hosea 2.6 ('Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns') to refer to the way God hems someone in, or makes them go in a particular direction. I suspect Hosea 2.6 is the text your mother had in mind. Perhaps she was referring to praying for the protecting of someone, even against themselves.
It is anachronistic to refer to the Bible as either feminist or chauvinist, since those are modern terms. But this much can be stated emphatically. The Bible does not support the notion that men are superior to women. Both are created in the image of God, and both can be redeemed in Christ. We are told in Galatians 3.28 that it is God's design for the order of redemption that there be no pecking order based on maleness or femaleness, based on being either Jew or Gentile, or based on one's social position (whether slave or free). All are one in Christ.