Lent 2020 has passed under the light of a waning Gibbous Moon. And in the words of a mime spinner, "This was the Lentiest Lent he'd ever Lented". No doubt, this was quipped with the Wuhan pandemic in view. And, but by Divine miracle, we'll wake tomorrow in the grip of this virus as Easter breaks across Suburbia Majora. With all of this, I want to share how the previous lenten season touched and stretched me.
Lent began in the Dark. Literally, for me Lent began at 4:45 AM on Ash Wednesday as I rose to prepare for the 6:30 & 8:00 AM Observances at All-Saint's. On that day too, I would encounter another type of darkness after arriving at work and discovering that in a Post-Christian world, far too many have absolutely no knowledge of Ash Wednesday. I was met with curious stares until one woman asked "what's that on on your face? Did you forget to wash this morning?' Trying to keep it light, I smiled and said I bumped up against my own mortality. "Ohh, did it hurt?" she replied in a tone of concern. From here I knew she had now context for the ashes on my forehead and it opened a door to share the season of Lent with her, explaining how may followers Christ observe this season as a time to fast, pray, and reflect in these weeks leading to the Easter season.
Lent in Lockdown. At Lent's onset, the COVID-19 was on another Continent and effecting "other people". Little did we know, that in two short weeks our Republic would seize up and grind to a halt. Many were now watching their retirement portfolios evaporate as Stock Markets around the world cratered. People were compelled to self distance and stay apart. Churches ceased to gather for corporate worship. March 15th saw our final public gathering and inwardly, I grieved for the saints who were being placed under interdict by reactionary public officials and denied the comfort of the Sacraments and the benedictions of their priests. A bright light in this darkness was being part of a technology-gifted parish that was able to employ existing technical resources in order to either prerecord or livestream the Holy Week from All-Saints. In fact, tonight I'll be watching myself in the Easter Vigil.
You can't pursue a Holy Lent in your Own Strength. Of all the takeaways from Lent 2020, for me this was the greatest. All my attempts at this in years past we abysmal failures. Like Charlie Brown, I'd run headlong towards the football only to have it yanked away. Simply put, you'll find yourself incapable of ever doing this in your own strength. Experientially, I was reminded in this season, the deeper one leans on the Spirit, the easier this pursuit becomes.