Lent is 40 days, but this year it was 400.
To worship teams which revisioned worship three times (once for social distancing, once live-streaming from the church, and finally live-streaming from home), this was the longest Lent.
To pastors who were forced to become producers, or who steel themselves whenever the phone rings, fearful it is yet another parishioner diagnosis, this was the longest Lent.
To religious groups that tried and tried and tried but were unable to meet together for their high holy days, this was the longest Lent.
To evangelical pastors that litigated and violated lockdowns and packed their sanctuaries with people, unrepentant when their own parishioners got COVID, sigh, this was the longest Lent (and stop it).
To huge conferences that were critical to the future of church or movements, or just a fun relief to the everyday that you were looking forward to or set your life upon, only to have them cancelled or rescheduled, this was the longest Lent.
To the sick who had to wait 5 days for a diagnosis, this was the longest Lent.
To those in the waiting room with non-COVID concerns, wondering if that cougher or sneezer was a vector, this was the longest Lent.
To the non-emergency procedures that you waited months for, were suffering for, only to have them deferred to an unknown date, this was the longest Lent.
To families which visited their loved ones in care facilities through the window, this was the longest Lent.
To the active seniors who suddenly found themselves on the “vulnerable populations” and were confined to home long before you thought you would be, this was the longest Lent.
To those with COVID-19, who endure with gallows humor to cover their fear, or who are facing an impossible situation, without their family or loved ones close enough to touch and be told everything will be okay, this was the longest Lent.
To parents who had to tell their kids they wouldn’t be in school for five months, and there was no way to say goodbye in person to their friends or teachers, this was the longest Lent.
To parents who became teachers, who got a crash-course in crisis-schooling from homeschool parents, this was the longest Lent.
To teachers who became video instructors, turned over their entire plans and careers to desperately help children and youth through five months without school, this was the longest Lent.
To parents of children with special needs, who became at-home care 24-7 without relief, this was the longest Lent.
To children who, instead of attending a birthday party, have to drive by and honk at classmate’s houses, or who cannot be consoled at the loss of their routines, who have had to learn self-reliance faster than they wanted, this was the longest Lent.
To brides and grooms, graduating seniors, who can’t hold their ceremonies they have been working for years towards, this was the longest Lent.
To new moms and dads whose pastor and family and friends couldn’t come visit the new baby or hold the tiny weights in their arms, this was the longest Lent.
To the abused locked down in a house with their abusers……this was the longest, most unimaginable Lent.
To those striving for justice who have their just resolution deferred or denied, the cruelty and harm left unchecked for now, angry and flailing as the world turns their eyes from this injustice at just the wrong time, this was the longest Lent.
To the bereaved who have to do a memorial later in the year, or a smaller funeral than they imagined, in their extended mourning without release, this was the longest Lent.
To the lonely who find their four walls even more constricting, who yearn for conversation, touch, connection, this was the longest Lent.
To the corrupt who traffic in fearmongearing, who make demonic decisions while the public is distracted, who escape accountability and devour widows, this was (gleefully for them) the longest Lent.
To nurses, doctors, hospital staff, technicians, and health care workers who are directly in harm’s way without personal protective equipment due to institutional, economic, and governmental failures, this was the longest Lent.
To public health officials, mayors, and governors risking their credibility and trust with every decision made in anticipation rather than reaction, grim and costly calls made before the pandemic starts, this was the longest Lent.
To grocery store clerks who became first responders without the legal protections and compensation, and who stocked a whole store overnight in gloves and masks, this was the longest Lent.
To the delivery drivers who became a lifeline and a newly appreciated public service, but with incredibly taxing schedules and loads on fewer people without protection, this was the longest Lent.
To crafters of all ages becoming mask-makers, knowing their volume not perfection was saving lives, this was the longest Lent.
To shoppers that had to drive to five different stores to finally find one-ply toilet paper, under a sign that said “one per customer,” this was the longest Lent.
To employees who turned guest rooms into home offices, who had their kids burst in on them while on camera, and had to remember to turn off zoom when they went to the bathroom, this was the longest Lent.
To wait staff and countless restaurant workers who are furloughed and waiting for the ability to gather and serve again, this was the longest Lent.
To the artists, performers, singers, support and admin staff of our empty recital halls, ballets, museums, showcases, galleries, concerts and clubs, this was the longest Lent.
To musicians whose concert halls are closed and their livelihood taken from them for a month already and months ahead, but they sit on their balconies or rooftops and serenade the neighborhood or a livestream for free, this was the longest Lent.
Lent is 40 days, but this Lent was 400. This was the longest Lent. And we are still on lockdown, as of this writing, in much of the United States (and across the world).
May the 50 days of Easter be marked not with lament of what we have lost, or looking backwards to where we yearn to return, but a looking towards the new greenery that bursts forth after the storm, the buds that emerge after a forest fire, the resurrected life from the tomb, and the possibilities from our God of improbabilities who is our constant companion in both the valleys and the mountains.
For who else was this the longest Lent? Leave a comment below or on social media.
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