Lenten Quarantine

This Lent was supposed to be different.

I started off strong on Ash Wednesday- I had a solid set of devotions planned and a rather large scoop of ashes in my hair (they go full-on ashes and sack-cloth here in Spain for Lent). And then the coronavirus started working its way through Spain, beginning slowly at first with a small town in the north, and then eventually collapsing the entire country under the weight of sick loved ones and job losses. My Lenten fast originally consisted in abstaining from chocolate and sweets; once the nationwide quarantine was implemented, that went out the proverbial window. Instead of chocolate croissants and gummy bears, this Tennessee boy has had to fast from even leaving the house.

As we enter into Holy Week, I realize that this Lent has not been as spiritual or religious as I had hoped to make it. But I think this Lenten quarantine has had even better effects- I have been praying more, talking with friends and family frequently, and slowing down enough to savor the things I normally overlook. I have been paying attention to the crimson-red Spanish sunsets, to the trash cats chilling in the vacant lot across from my flat, to the carrot I have been growing on my balcony, and to the sounds of my neighbors living their best lives possible while locked inside their homes.

Never before have I truly needed to portion food and do my best with what I have on hand to put good meals on the table. Keeping away from others by not going to the supermarket until it is absolutely necessary is one small way I can respect the lives and health of other people, while also cherishing my own. This is the Lent that we have needed- to slow down and remember that the good of each person is wrapped up in the good of others.

I think Ms. Corona’s lasting lesson to us all is that life was made to be lived in communion with others and with nature. Below you will find one of my favorite blessings which I first heard at St. John’s Lutheran in Knoxville. This is my prayer for each of you reading this post, and I invite you to pray this blessing over the ones you love and care for.

Keep walking your pilgrimage to somewhere (even if it only takes you from your sofa to the refrigerator).

May God give you the grace never to sell yourself short,
grace to risk something big for something good,
grace to remember the world is too
dangerous for anything but the truth and
too small for anything but love.
And may God take our hearts and set them on fire with His love.

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