The Pope, Laura Ingalls, and Quarantine Blues

I almost forgot it was Lent.

I’m not Catholic, but I have always enjoyed this season leading up to Easter more than any other time of the year. Spring in the air, fun activities with the kids, a good Bible study focusing on the season, all leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services.

It’s the time of year we take spring break vacations as well. Three different trips popped up on my photo memories today and it was a bit of a bittersweet thing to see. Beaches, laughing little boys, good memories.

In the mad dash to stock the pantry with bread and Lysol, I really lost touch with some things. I knew something was coming, I just didn’t quite expect this. Nobody did. In saturating myself with the bad news, I kind of neglected the Good News. Yesterday was the first day I truly experienced the quarantine blues. I felt agitated, anxious and annoyed. We had a whopper of a blizzard here in Colorado that further compounded the separation we were already in, and although the first day went well, yesterday was just blah all around.

Much to my family’s annoyance, I watch Hallmark channel all day long. Not the cheesy movies, but Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons. I don’t care, make fun all you want, they are my favorite. I griped yesterday that not even Laura Ingalls herself had to deal with a blizzard and a quarantine in the same week.

So back to Lent… I was reminded of it in the funniest way this morning.

From “Our Sunday Visitor“, a Catholic publication, the words of Pope Francis:

“Return to your father who is waiting for you,” the pope said. “The God of tenderness will heal us; he will heal us of the many, many wounds of life and the many ugly things we have done. Each of us has our own!”

God welcomes every repentant sinner with open arms, he said. “It’s like going home.”

Lent is a special time “to let God wash us, purify us, to let God embrace us,” the pope said, and the best place for that is the confessional.

“But many people today would tell me, ‘Father, where can I find a priest, a confessor, because I can’t leave the house? And I want to make peace with the Lord, I want him to embrace me, I want the Father’s embrace.’”

The pope said his response would be, “Do what the Catechism (of the Catholic Church) says. It is very clear: If you cannot find a priest to confess to, speak directly with God, your father, and tell him the truth. Say, ‘Lord, I did this, this, this. Forgive me,’ and ask for pardon with all your heart.”

What a time to be alive. Catholics just heard they can go directly to God (in times of crisis and with the intent to get to confession as soon as this all subsides of course.)

Here’s Martin Luther saying I told you so.

All joking aside, we really are all in a position now to be healed, embraced, and purified, maybe in a way we’ve never experienced. To make our peace with any number of things. We will test out our on-line churches, virtual Bible studies, and hopefully dive in to what could be a great time of personal growth. The message is for us all: God is near and nothing can change that.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38,39 

Isolated, but not alone. We remember Lent, but now celebrate it in a deeper way, having all the activities surrounding it stripped away.

Remember that the lead-up to the first Easter was most certainly not bunnies and jellybeans and spring trips. Someone joked yesterday that a few weeks ago we were all flippantly discussing what we were going to give up for Lent, but no one thought we’d be giving up this much. Ouch. It hurts.

So while we are forced into a kind of imperfect rest right now, we are free to remember the real rest promised to us that came because of that first Easter. We rest and we work, because there’s still a purpose and a hope. A purpose for us outside of our jobs and titles. A hope for us separate from some fun plans.

What can we let go of right now? Fear. Anxiety. Control. Disappointment. The list can go forever.

Second Timothy reminds us to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

It’s a time for endurance. Lent and Easter are the very picture of Jesus enduring for us. May we endure together, and turn the very things the enemy meant for our destruction into unexpected blessings!

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