My conventional Lenten “Journey” began in February with regular participation in the Lisa Sargent directed program Living Well Through Lent 2021, a Living Compass seasonal resource (hereafter LWTL). In a nutshell, this year’s Lenten theme is Listening with all your Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. This is a wonderful Lenten program. However, by Easter of last year the COVID-19 Pandemic had already morphed our daily life into a continuous purgatory of fear, danger, isolation, stress, change and personal sacrifice. Although we could take advantage of this unusual opportunity to experience a “perpetual” Lent like season for retreat, reflection and prayer, its worldwide scope of devastating medical, economic, and social destruction threatened the world’s ability to treat the afflicted and to protect everyone from not only the coronavirus but also from perishing by famine, pestilence, and the lack of human necessities and social services. In short, was humankind facing a disaster of Biblical proportion? When, if ever, would we return to normalcy [“When will I see you again?*] Early in the life cycle of our modern “Plague”, it was uncertain if there would ever be a viable vaccine. It was also uncertain whether this Pandemic was an apocalyptic event that humans would not survive because the deadly COVID-19 virus is quick to spread and to mutate to even more contagious and deadly strains. Was this to be the end of the world? [Is this the end?**].
At this point, I present the partial lyrics from the 1974 hit single “When Will I See You Again” by the American female vocal group The Three Degrees:
“When will I see you again?*
When will I see you again?
When will I see you again?
Are we in love or just friends?
Is this my beginning or is it the end?
(Is this the end?)**”
Although it is a Motown love song contemplating an uncertain outcome, the lyrics could just as easily refer to the uncertain return to normalcy after the Pandemic, both specifically to church life at St. Michael’s or to the return to normalcy for life in general. Also, the question is posed about an uncertain return to spiritual trust and our relationship with the Creator.
The spoiler alert?!? The curse of COVID-9 is being lifted: Effective vaccines have been developed and are now being fielded. The relatively short period of suffering is a blessing, an opportunity to trust in God. And God is always present; and God is firmly in command. If we have truly listened to the Lord (with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind) during this crisis, we know that our trust is well placed because “we can trust in the slow work of God” as beautifully expressed by Jesuit priest and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin (at p. 50 LWTL). Living the exemplary Christian life will never be easy but we can relax trusting that God is firmly in charge and is always protecting us and listening to our prayers, while showing mercy and love. What once was an eschatological threat causing fear, death and despair is now a reason to express our gratitude to God.