This has been one of the strangest and painful Lenten seasons that I can remember. Yes, with the Christian tradition, Lent has been viewed as a time for introspection, remembering the life and ministry of Jesus.
But this year …. there was a tsunami from the consequences of Covid-19. We have seen alarming rates of death all over the world. There has been examples of meanness and avarice from some people which has been astounding. Going to the grocery store, especially trying to find in vain, items like eggs, milk or toilet paper has been totally demoralizing. The feeling I get roaming empty shopping aisles would be analogous to “The Myth of Sisyphus “by Albert Camus.
Now we are approaching Holy Week, the most drama filled period during the Christian year. Again, we will observe the events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.
Yet we will not mark these events in person, but we will click online to join a digital session.
The lone figure of Pope Francis walking by himself in St. Peter’s Square to deliver a homily says it all, the world is feeling very lonely and desperate right now.
Where is the divine?
Now online services are nothing new. Several churches have facilitated them for years. One large United Methodist Church in suburban Dallas, TX has marketed their services particularly for the elderly and disabled including those who are living in Assisted Living facilities.
This is all to the good.
But I will be missing the sound of a pipe organ playing Bach, the smell of Sandal candles. The ringing of bells, the taste of Communion bread and wine. I will miss these elements because it reminds me again of the importance in living with one another in comm unity.
Listening to someone preach a sermon or sing a solo to no one in the room cannot replace being in a sanctuary or another holy place and experiencing this with other people.
As Martin Buber would say, we are meant to be “I Thou, not I It. “
Hearing Stephen Colbert do a monologue alone is not the same as hearing the audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York N.Y
We are finding ourselves living in a strange time and in a strange land.
No matter how much we Zoom, Web-Ex or Skype, it’s not going to make up for the loss of a handshake, a pat on the back or a hug from a loved one or a friend.
This is especially true now with all the death that we are witnessing around us.
The Psalmist asks the question:
“How do we sing the Lord’s Song in a strange land? “(Psalm 137.4)
That answer will vary uniquely with each person.
We may need to rely on other mediums in order to stay connected and to feel joy. Maybe more phone calls, letter writing, E-Mails, walks in our neighborhood. Perhaps, taking time to see the Bluebonnets, Indian Paint Brush and other flowers bloom, to take time to hear the birds sing again and to remind us that we are connected to the earth, and to one another.
Maybe we need to remind ourselves that Resurrection and new life can come to us in a myriad of new ways, if we but have the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the heart to feel.
May it be so.