We’ve arrived at this last Wednesday of Lent. Just five weeks ago we began our Lenten journey with ashes. As we placed ashes on one another’s foreheads, we may have said “Hope does not disappoint”. And we prayed “Loving God, we now open ourselves to your presence as we seek HOPE in your promise of love and grace.” Little did we know what would lie ahead.
And today, just like those ashes, the fragility of our lives seems to be in the balance. Today we observe new rituals of distancing, quarantine and washing. There is a new urgency as we hear the voices of fear, and words of false hope, as we face the trauma of isolation. We are in the midst of something we cannot fully understand, nor an outcome we can yet imagine.
And as we reflect on this Lenten experience during this history-making time our emotions probably run the gamut: anxiety, fear, disappointment, fear, sadness, fear, anger. Did I mention fear? So natural at a time like this! Every time I cough, I start to worry. My friends have their thermometers in regular use. We worry about how cautious we should be when the alarmists come after us with what often turns out to be the wrong information. No feeling takes over our lives more completely than fear. Fear can blind us. So, what to do??
We can lose ourselves in the Psalms where prayers are offered up to God to be able to face our fears as they rise up. You can remember to keep reaching out and stay engaged with the world. And remember to keep reaching in to stay engaged with your soul. That’s Parker Palmer’s suggestion and in addition he says this: “I will always have fears, but I need not be my fears, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act.”
You can remember God’s promise made through the prophet Jeremiah to give us a future with hope. Where do you look for hope? Some of us find it in the myriad of stories, jokes and cartoons circulating on the net and find the healing power of laughter. Some of us look to nature, at the hopeful signs of Spring all around us right now. Some of us lose ourselves in a good book (I have a friend who’s just finished his fourth) or in the comfort and inspiration of music (singing and dancing is a great way to work out!). Connecting with family and friends, in whatever way we can, sustains us, lifts our spirits, makes us grateful, gives us joy.
I would love to hear your stories of where you’re finding hope in these days of uncertainty and bewilderment. Email me at email@example.com
The Rev. Lorrie Skinner