The Loss of (or is it a lesser?) Lent…

This Lent, for this Christian,
especially the coming week Christians call “Holy” –

Holy Week

when we recount those last days of Jesus
that finalize His life’s labors,
that fulfill His divinely-ordained destiny,
aye, his reason for Being in the world;
and that foretell His rising
(without which there is no religion called “Christian”)…

when we, Christians, liturgically, do all of those
“Passionate” things,
“Mandated” things,
“Good” things,
“Vigilant” things,
that we do once every year –

will be…has been…is
(and, never desiring to universalize my experience,
nevertheless, doubtless, I think, I feel for many others)
lost or lesser than any I’ve known before.

For, now, we,
during this time of living, isolating,
under the approaching, aye, present global viral veil,
when gathering in physical community –

to bless, to bear and process with palms,
to share, with manifold voices, the reading of His Passion,
to take, to shake hands in fellowship,
to embrace and offer the kiss of Peace,
to partake of Communion
in the breaking of the bread and
the sharing of the cup,
to “survey the wondrous cross whereon the Prince of Glory died,”
to light the Vigil pyre and bear the candle Paschal
and to exult in chant and to shout “Alleluia!” –

is strictly a “Do not” (even think about it)!

Thus, I wonder, worry whether
I have lost Lent
or that this will be…has been…is a lesser Lent.

Then I think
(or did I really think it or was is Spirit-sent?)
that my Christian forebears of ancient days
(and, in these days, my sisters and brothers in some places still),
those followers of “The Way,”
oft practiced their faith isolated for persecution’s fear;
their places of gathering
(sometimes as few as but two)
marked by “the sign of the fish.”

So, I believe, I know that
what we do (and cannot do) now,
though for reasons different than long ago
is little different from what my forebears knew
who, for sake of their virtuous, valiant devotion,
for generation unto generation, bequeathed unto me that faith
by which,
in which,
of which,
on which,
through which
(I know a thing is true when every preposition works!)
I, as Thomas, without a doubt, call Jesus “my Lord and my God.”

Thus, I believe, I know that
this Lent, this Holy Week
is neither lost nor lesser
only different.

4 thoughts on “The Loss of (or is it a lesser?) Lent…

  1. Paul,
    This made me cry….it’s LOVELY … and more helpful than I can say! I believe life is going to be different for a long time….so I take from this reflection that life will be better or worse when this is all over, but it certainly will be different.

    Much love

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  2. Thank you, Loretta. This piece arose out of my musings this morning (which, truly, are a continuation of my thinking and feeling throughout this season of the church and this time in the world), here, on the precipice of Holy Week, how different, how very different this Lent is from all that I have known before. Somehow, someway (the Holy Spirit?), I, other than my more typically dour self, I could see the light of grace, allowing me to perceive this day and time differently. Hence, neither a lost nor lesser Lent, but rather a different Lent.

    Your comment – “I believe life is going to be different for a long time…so I take from this reflection that life will be better or worse when this is all over, but it certainly will be different” – lead me to ponder the questions: What would I consider to be a life that is worse? What would I consider to be a life that is better? In this, as I, as we all, are waiting for the end of this round of the coronavirus plague (for I do believe that come this autumn’s arrival of the standard flu season, we may see this virus, in mutated-form, appear again), and believing that life will be different, I wonder: In what way or in what ways? And, in this line of inquiry, I do not presume to be predictive of what will come or of what will be, but rather, I seek to settle in my mind and heart my own defining terms for “worse” and “better” that I may know them when I see them.

    Be well, stay well.

    Love,
    Paul

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  3. This was so lovely. Thank you. I confess I have been struggling to make meaning of Palm Sunday and Holy Week and Easter this year. Not even because of the isolation or the tragedy of lost lives but because I am spending so much time with my kids and I feel a responsibility to explain it to them. In the past, the church did so much of that for me. We participated in the traditions and I didn’t have to be articulate and clear about it all.

    Yesterday we got a butterfly kit where they send you caterpillars and you watch them turn into butterflies. I was explaining to my kids what would happen, and I said, “It feels like magic. It is one of God’s miracles.” It gave me the perfect segue to say, “Easter is coming. It is also about God’s miracles. So we’re looking for miracles this week.” I was so grateful the opportunity arrived like that. Otherwise, I don’t have the words for my kids right now. Though listening to you and reading your words helps. Thank you. – Lisa Ramish

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    1. My dear Lisa, I thank you and I am grateful that anything I write is of help. These are – more – trying times than any “new normal” due to circumstance that I recall (including 9/11 and the aftermath, which, of course, is ongoing). Your image and instruction of miracles, indeed, God’s miracles is comforting and compelling. Bless you, Dan, and your beloved children. With love, Paul

      Like

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