This time around, Lent seems more focused, more tangible—perhaps more real?—for me. Almost like I’ve come back to Lent’s original nature or purpose. I’m tempted to think that this is especially true for older adults, but that’s probably not accurate: This time around, Lent is for all of us.
Lent-like thoughts and feelings seem to have been tagging along with me for the past year. Deep sorrow about so many facets of our national life. Suffering all around, not just COVID-related, either. A sense of being suspended in the middle of some kind of widespread societal punishment. Giving up parts of my well-being whether I wanted to or not.
One helpful Lenten discipline was made possible this year: Regular opportunities to dig into spiritual matters, priorities, relationships, purpose. Sequestered in place, I’ve had ample time to examine my life—to confess, repent and make changes where necessary.
Whether during these few weeks or the entire past year, I’ve also found reasons to hope. Even when that may have seemed illogical, I’ve stuck close to my faith in God’s providence: That somehow we all would be rescued; that love would prevail. Daring to hope for what I couldn’t yet see, I also found faint flickers of spiritual life emerging.
Post-Lenten patterns are now showing themselves: Kindness and care pushing aside hate and disregard. Empathy growing more tangible in our national priorities. Altruism bending us toward the greater good. Churches holding on to their core values and purposes. Evil facing its natural consequences.
Lenten thoughts and behaviors have seemed more intense this past year, especially during these past weeks. Thanks to God’s grace, I can now see the Spring-borne signs that we will also celebrate Easter this year unlike any other!