February 25, 2021
As I write this letter, I’m looking out my window at a very thick blanket of snow (10+ inches)! There’s something about freshly fallen snow that brings a hush over my heart. Maybe it’s that there are less cars on the road, and it is literally quieter outside. Maybe it’s the transformation of a normally very colorful world to a more monochromatic winter wonderland. Maybe it’s that when you walk, you can see your own footsteps and the footprints of other creatures that have crossed the same path; there’s a sense of mystery to those “comings and goings.”
On a snowy day like today, our Lenten theme of Learning to Live in the Desert feels like a juxtaposition of metaphors. However, both landscapes invite us to slow down and become aware of the beauty of God’s creation. Whether we make our way in the sand OR snow – we can see our footprints tracing the path of our journey. Whether we have stinging sweat dripping down our face from the heat of the sun OR frozen wet droplets crystallizing on our face from the snow (both often flushing our cheeks) – we notice our bodies responding to the elements; we’re aware that things happening outside of us create a response inside of us.
This week, as I slow down in the desert of Lent and snuggle up in the winter of Denver, I have been intentional about focusing my awareness on this reality: more than 500,000 Americans and 2.5 million people worldwide have lost their lives due to COVID-19 (including nearly 6,000 in Colorado). Those numbers are too large for me to truly comprehend, and so I’ve intentionally tried to process the gravity of these losses by slowing down and imagining those statistics as real people. I’ll touch each of my fingers and count to five, taking five deep breaths – just letting each finger and each breath represent 100,000 people.
Many of us at Calvary have been touched deeply by lives lost in this pandemic; we have beloved, familiar faces in our mind’s eye, the sound of someone’s voice or laughter in our memory’s ear. And we’ve also lost pieces of ourselves as we’ve grieved events missed, trips cancelled, gatherings with friends and family restricted. Some of us haven’t hugged a love one or held their hand in over a year. Grieving is important. Grief helps us grapple with what has happened, and gives us the space to begin to ask (when we’re ready), where do we go from here? How we do lift our gaze to see hope on the horizon?
God meets us in our grief, not apart from it, whether that grief feels more like the heat of the desert or the starkness of winter. May you find the time you need this week, and every week, to grieve the losses you feel in your life, in our country, and in our world. I have seen this prayer in multiple resources; I found it helpful, perhaps you will too. As you pray, know that you are not alone:
God of consolation,
Surely you count in heaven,
Just as we count here on earth,
In shock and in sorrow,
The souls sent back to You,
The countless dead from the pandemic,
Each death, a heartbreak,
Each soul, a life denied.
God of healing, bring an end to this pandemic,
And all illness and disease.
Bless those who stand in service to humanity.
Bless those who grieve.
Bless the dead,
So that their souls are bound up in the bond of life eternal.
And grant those still afflicted
With disease or trauma
A completed and lasting healing,
Until all suffering ceases,
And all of life is forever redeemed.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Peace be with you,