Rinse and pick through the lentils. Place them in a small pot and add 2 and 1/4 cups of water, the bay leaf, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and some pepper. (NO SALT!)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and cover the pot. Set a timer for about 10 minutes and leave it alone.
Taste test the lentils. They should be tender but still a bit firm. You don't want them turning into mush, mushy lentils are a mess. If they taste at all chalky, keep cooking.
When the lentils are tender, add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the bay leaf and set aside. Leave the lid on.
Meanwhile, toast the bread. (You can skip this step if you left your chopped bread out overnight. It needs to be nice and dry so that it can absorb all the chicken broth we're about to pour all over it.) Heat your oven to 300 degrees F. Tear or chop your bread into bite-size pieces, it doesn't need to be perfect. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 300. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven up to 350.
In a large high-sided skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. When it is hot, add butternut squash, onion, and celery. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pepper, parsley, and 2 teaspoons dried sage.
Saute for about 10-15 minutes, until the butternut is fork tender but not mushy. Taste it and adjust seasonings to your taste.
Stir in 2 cloves garlic, dried cranberries (if using fresh herbs, add them now), and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Stir in 6 tablespoons butter until melted. Turn off the heat.
Spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
In a very large bowl, add the toasted bread, lentils, and butternut squash mixture.
Pour the chicken broth over the stuffing and stir.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared 9x13 inch pan.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, until the top has browned. I broiled the top of mine for about 2 minutes, but that's only because I'm obsessed with crispy toppings. Totally optional.