Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. For Christians, it marks the start of the great season of Lent and our forty-day journey toward Holy Week. For many though, it seems we have been in a two-year Lent since the arrival of the pandemic here in the United States – and around the world.
In those two years, we have given up going out, gathering with others, celebrations large and small. Weddings and birthdays and even funerals have been postponed. In the last two years, while we have celebrated nurses, doctors, and other essential workers, we have also become more divided – in our politics, in our church, and even in our families.
Maybe our focus this year for Lent shouldn’t be on giving up on chocolate or alcohol, or whatever else we sacrifice during these forty days. Maybe what we need – in our families, in our communities, and in our church is a little more – more being with each other – more grace and gratitude – more building the beloved community. Maybe we can remember that none of us makes this journey alone and that the Trinity, the divine community, is present in us when we gather together. Giving up chocolate and sweets is good; building the beloved community might be an even better Lenten project.
The words of Pádraig Ó Tuama, the Irish poet and theologian might serve as our reflection in the weeks ahead, “Who are we to be with one another? And how are we to be with one another?” He is the former leader of the Corymeela community, which is Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community. Peace and reconciliation are certainly what the world could use these days.