This week marks the half-way point through Lent. But is it really the half-way point? This week also marks the one-year anniversary of when many of our church buildings were closed and in-person gatherings stopped because of COVID-19.
Early on, there were memes and jokes about last year’s Lent being the “Lentiest Lent ever.” I also remember hearing people say that they weren’t “planning on giving up so much for Lent.”
I don’t think anyone would have anticipated that we’d still be teaching and worshipping virtually a year later. Many of us learned new skills in online faith formation, recording, and caring for our families in creative ways. Some of the things we’ve done have worked, some haven’t. Some of the things we’ve done we’ll keep doing once it’s safe to be back in person, and some we won’t.
As I reflect on the past year, I am reminded of so many emotions I experienced: fear, guilt, shame, and grief. Fear of what’s happening and when it will end, guilt and shame for feeling like I’m not doing enough, and grief over the hope of what should have been. These and many other emotions come and go like the waves of the ocean.
I’m also reminded of the excitement, creativity, and joy I felt as I finally had a grasp on what I was doing. I felt excitement in trying new things and connecting with families and children in new ways. There was excitement in tapping into my creativity and bringing the entire church community together through quilting, I also remember the joy I felt the first time I was able to see some of the children and families for our Sunday School supply pick-up day. Seeing their faces with masks as colorful and bright as they are filled my heart with so much joy!
It’s been a year of Lent. What should have been 40 days of wandering the wilderness, turned out to be 365 days of wilderness. We don’t know when it will end. Yet, we have seen some signs of hope.
It’s an understatement to say it’s been an interesting year. It has felt every bit like a year of Lent. As we look toward the promise of Easter and the hope of the resurrection, I am looking forward to the promise of being able to meet together in person again. I’m looking forward to the hope of new life from out of the wilderness.
I’m reminded of Lamentations 3 in which the author feels so burdened down and hopeless, but then is reminded of God’s promises and faithful love. The author writes, “Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended, certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 CEB).
As we continue to travel this unknown journey, may we hold one another up, take rest when we are weary, and look toward the hope of what is to come.