Last week conversations were dominated by the second impeachment trial of the president no longer in office, this week we return to daily issues of life in community, and the beginning of a new season of the church year. It is time to renew our practices of Lent, and we sometimes let is slip by unnoticed in the Anabaptist tradition, but this year is seems highly appropriate.
1. Lent in Secret
We covenanted last Sunday evening at Peace Mennonite (homebase) church to practice a Lenten Spiritual discipline in secret, as the lectionary (Matt. 6: 1-11) teaches us. Each person will choose some fresh spiritual practice and tell no one. Not even a marital partner. At the end of 40 days, when Easter has come, we will talk of its gift to us, but perhaps, keep the secret.
2. Oranges, Lemons, Friendship
Our friends call us to come pick tangelos and navels, perfect sweet fruit, and we share them with people who do not venture out. We set out a box with a sign “Free lemons” to share the bounty from our backyard and watch neighbors carry them away. Then we create lemon squares, lemon curd, and finally an orange zest three layer cake to leave gifts on front door stoops—and people gladly stoop to claim the love that defies Covid separation, We call it “citrus community.”
3. Dark collusion, Flashes of Light
As violence is rationalized and political chess features the Trump or McConnell Gambit, we talked rather of flashes of light: like Jamie Riskin’s daughter Hannah grieving for the pain of the children of insurrectionists, or Barry Black’s prayers that ring like Amos or Micah. We asked, can we open our hearts to care for those whose actions we deplore, feel compassion for their children and hope for their future? And truth gets mentioned often after a long season of prevarication and mendacity. Truth crushed to ground is promised to rise again?
4. The Dig
A 1939 excavation of an Anglo Saxon ship buried in a long mound on a Suffolk estate provided a rich set of metaphors for mortality and death. The Netflix series left an afterglow in our conversations with friends. Seeing a poetic portrayal of multiple generations supporting each other in vulnerable health fit the context of today with fresh insights.
5. Covid Exhaustion
Clues of pandemic burnout offer new variants of the need for Pastoral Care. There are life-affirming links possible to offer each other on phone, email, Facebook messenger that confirm we hear the cries of loneliness, that attend to the emails of anxiety, the calls reporting loss, and much more. It is a time to look closely, listen attentively, respond with care and sensitively to each other. We need each other, and compassion is the first treatment we can all offer.