How far you’ve come.

 

Ashes to go.

Foreheads or hands?

Ash Wednesday in a bag.

Wilderness sand and rocks on a tray.

Buried Alleluias. Virtually.

Lenten family practices.

We could try coloring.

One Great Hour or Sharing. Maybe?

Holy Week planning.

Palms.

Parades. How?

The walk through Holy Week.

Family foot washing.

Maundy Thursday in another new way.

In what way Good Friday?

Tenebrae?

Holy Saturday silence. (Thank you…)

Zoom Easter prep.

Lily delivery.

To flower the cross or not to flower the cross.

Resurrection gardens this year?

Resurrection somehow and all ways and always.

Zoom. Zoom.  And more Zoom.

 

The last 40 days (plus Sundays, plus planning) maybe felt like 400. Maybe Lent 2020 felt like a creative challenge. And then 2021. A slog. A not-so-tasty taste of things to come.

Or maybe your imaginative juices flowed fast as you had the chance to do new things that you had always wanted to do anyhow.

 

And maybe, just maybe, you were planning for your parish PLUS trying to mark Lent with your own people at home. Always an experiment in faithful living.

 

I get tired just remembering what I did for all those years serving a church as a DCE, then Director of Children’s Ministry, and finally Associate Pastor for Faith Formation. I get tired just typing what you did from January to April this year.

 

Lent can feel like drinking from the church fire hose.

 

And now, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter are done, calendar-wise. (The inner work of Lent and Easter are never done.)

 

Sisters and brothers, breathe.

 

I mean it. Stop reading after this sentence and breathe . . . three deep, deep breaths . . . .

 

Really. I mean it. No one is watching. Breathe.         Breathe.

 

In and out.

Breathe in grace.

Breathe out stress or anxiety.

 

Breathe in grace

Breathe out or whatever it is you need to exhale.

 

Breathe. Deeply. Deeper.

Breath of life.

Breath of love.

Breath of rest.

 

Something holy happened in and for them.

Trust me.

No, trust the Spirit.

You did beautiful, faithful, important ministry for your little, middle-sized, and big people in those wonderful, terrible 40 days.

You did.

In a pandemic.

Again.

 

I wish I were closer to each of you.

I would surround you with a [masked] grandmotherly hug and say directly to you,

Well, done, good and faithful servant.

Rest.

You need it.

 

Breathe.

Breathe.

Rest.

You deserve it.

You do . . . .

 

 

 

Author Image

Rev. Marylen Marty-Gentile

  served the First United Church of Oak Park (PCUSA-UCC) for 24 years, teaching, and leading children, youth, and adults as a staff member and associate pastor. Throughout her ministry, her particular focus was how art and ritual impact spiritual formation and deepen growth. Since leaving parish ministry, Marylen has been a spiritual director and companion, drawing on conversation, art, prayer, sound, and silence as people explore their connection with the Holy.