This Lenten fast

Although the world has change drastically in the last three weeks, it’s still Lent.  The season began on Ash Wednesday when we gathered in the sanctuary – in-person! – and shared in the imposition of ashes on one another’s foreheads. 

We recited the ancient words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.” 

It’s an annual reminder of our mortality, our smallness in the grand story in which we participate.  A reassurance that the cosmic unfolding preceded our arrival and continues after we are gone.  These words do what our baptism invites us to do: to die before we die.  To let it all go as if it were not.  Then everything we have, every breath, every grain of dust bonded to another that composes our bodies and others’, is recognized as a gift.  Fasting invites a similar spiritual journey.

But we didn’t anticipate, now three weeks after Ash Wednesday, what all we would be fasting from.  Our workplaces.  The warmth of being surrounded by familiar and anonymous faces.  Our routines. 

For these deaths small and large we pray.  For what might be resurrected from them we wait in hope.  

For a smaller grouping of us – medical professionals, public officials, “essential staff” – this feels like anything but a fast.  It is crisis management and lives and institutional survival are on the line and the clock is ticking. 

For these also we pray.  For patience, for wisdom, for periods of rest that are enough.  For supportive partners and co-workers.  For an inner sense of call, an inner motivation of love for the common good.