LENT is a precious time, not to be glum or miserable, but to contribute to making the world better. Jesus did not die on the cross for us to be sad or overwhelmed with gloomy thoughts. He died so that we would be empowered to make the world better…so that we can be ambassadors, vessels, of hope…so that, even if in only small ways, we might make someone smile and breathe a little bit more deeply.
Following the Vietnam War, the returning POWs (prisoners of war) shared multiple stories of how they survived their enslavement and torture by their North Vietnamese captors. The precise details are forgotten to me, but I recall one individual sharing that a fellow prisoner would readily give minuscule, quick, massages, neck rubs or gentle foot rubs to those who had been tortured or deprived of food and water. Essentially, that POW did what he could to alleviate some of the suffering his fellow prisoners were experiencing. While forgetting the details, I have never forgotten the story…of an individual doing what he could in the midst of great suffering and pain…to make a difference.
Thus, this is my suggestion for LENT 2021. Forget about giving up chocolate or wine. Forget about reading spiritual books or doing more private prayer. How about actively doing something for other people that will make a small difference in their life? And then doing it again and again? A phone call. A text message. Perhaps writing letters of support and affirmation for your neighbors, especially those sheltering at home. Put it in a zip lock bag and lay it on their doorstep. Drop off some home cooked dishes to the elderly in your neighborhood, with a description of how safely you prepared the food, and leave your phone number? Anything you can do to give hope to someone else is what I think we are being called to do. How can we make a difference?
Peace and all good blessings,