As our diocese approached Lent this year I spent much time worrying about how it was going to go. We gathered resources for parishes, prepared our liturgies, and got ready for Ash Wednesday as if the pandemic hadn’t changed a thing. I wondered about what I have come to call the “dissipations of the pandemic.”
We were all affected by COVID-19, whether we felt ill or not. Each body, heart and mind became a microcosm of the unknown that the population of Earth involuntarily faced, and is still reeling from. Is it not true how each one of us is still discovering that we have deeper questions about life and meaning?
Seeking answers to these surfacing questions might be healing or traumatic. Look closely all around, and you will see a reeling and clamouring society, trying to find the answers to questions that we don’t know how to ask any more. One thing for sure is that we do know that we are lost, and that there are questions deep within each of us that we absolutely need to ask. We also know we need help to find answers.
What stories of the past year—from last Easter to this Easter—can you share about your own life? Did this virus really retreat? What irreparable damage has it caused?
As I look at the images that surround our lives: Church, health care, government, war, disaster rising costs, uncertainty, human dignity, and so on, I have focused in prayer that the Spirit of Jesus—the Spirit of Love—would highlight our weaknesses and need, and provide a clear pathway for each one of us. I have no “simple or pat” Easter message this year. When I write these messages it tears the heart out of me. But I can say this: We need to find Jesus again. We need to find each other.
Travelling through Lent this year I rediscovered a 13th century Islamic poet who helped me refocus on Easter. The poet Rumi advises us in “The Guest House” to welcome each visitor:
“even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.
Why on earth would you even try to find a way to do that?
Because it is the pathway to new hope, light and life.”
Will I accept the invitation from this pandemic and hear Jesus’ invitation to transformation? He called each of us from the doorway of an open tomb to believe and follow. He is still calling. Will the world hear the message with one heart and move from the “Age of Me to the Age of We?”
I hope so. I dare believe it. I believe in “New Life” and resurrection.
Let me leave you with an Easter blessing through this well known reflection from Julian of Norwich. (1343 – 1416) Writing about the work of the Creator through Jesus, Julian of Norwich wrote: “The worst has already happened and been repaired. . . . All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
As to trust in Jesus’ promise of New Life, may your Easter bring you healing, joy, and hope.
+John, Central Newfoundland