Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Photo: © iStock.com / wildpixel (Image ID# 1145766838)We began this lentiest of all Lents the way we begin lent every year:

Remember that you are God’s beloved dust
And to God’s beloved dust you will return.

Many of us chose indulgences to “give up” or disciplines to adopt during the season, hoping to deepen our spiritual lives, and connect with our own souls and with the Holy Mystery to which we all belong.

And then along came the coronavirus. Sneaking in around the edges at first, adding a bit of background noise, a gentle hum of anxiety, which has grown from day to day until now, when every facet of our lives is affected by our attempts to limit the spread, to keep ourselves and others safe.

Instead of giving up sugar or pasta or potato chips, we have had to give up the casual indulgence of popping into the store for a few things just because the whim took us for something not already in the house. Instead of giving up social media, we have become dependent on our computers and smart phones to see each other’s faces, have had to learn the ins and outs of apps we’d never used before. Instead of giving up one small indulgence, instead of adopting one special discipline, our lives have been reoriented. Stuck at home (safe at home) we’ve had to give up all kinds of things we take for granted: the work spaces and recreation spaces and service spaces that give shape to our lives. Face to face contact with the people who give meaning to our lives.

In this lentiest of all Lents we are pared back to essentials: love and wonder in the face of human suffering and resilience.

It can be tempting to try to find reasons for the pandemic. I read attempts from every stream of American religious life trying to do just that: from “Covid 19 is a punishment for America’s personal moral failings” to “Covid 19 is the earth healing itself of humanity’s excess consumption.” None of the “explanations” I’ve read are remotely satisfying to me.

As N.T. Wright wrote recently, Christianity has no answers for times like this. Instead we have the tradition of lament, and the trust that God, present in Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus, is present now in the Spirit, weeping and hoping with us.

As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope. (from “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It's Not Supposed To.” by N. T. Wright, Time Online).

As we move now into the mystery of holy week and Easter, from our separate homes, let us go together, in love and wonder.