By Sister Ellen McClure
Lent and the coming Holy Week have taken on new and unexpected dimensions this year as the shadow of coronavirus looms over the world. A call to intercessory prayer for those who are ill has filled my consciousness. It is a great honor to be an intercessor for the people of God in so many time zones and places. As I see the numbers of the ill and the dying in our own country, I ask again for God’s unlimited mercy.
Fasting has taken on a meaning that is much bigger than thinking of food. The fast from travel away from our home here at The Waters has been a call to a new form of obedience. Our selection of food is limited and servers deliver it to our doors. What is the Lord asking of me as I choose and eat what they offer? The challenge is doing these things with a smile or a warm ‘thank you’ to whoever brings me my boxed meal. A little laughter with another sister or another resident also helps raise spirits in our present situation. This is my Lent, here and now.
The 1918 Spanish flu is the standard for comparison with the coronavirus pandemic. My father played trombone in a band for group funerals held in the West Virginia University stadium at that time. I pray our current situation does not become that intense here.
I ask myself, “What does God ask of me in prayer?” Spiritual masters tell us that whatever the circumstance, the Lord is in the middle of it, as is His life-giving love and care. The Lord grants communion and his presence without the limits of time, space or human restriction. May we receive him and be transformed. God’s very own Self-Communication to us is what Karl Rahner calls Uncreated Grace. Our generous God is ready to lead us beyond the limits we feel.
So we have hope. We are led, hand in hand with the Lord, through this time of the pandemic. We pray that we may be light to those around us. We may not be able to congregate but we can radiate the fullness of God with whomever we encounter. May we drink deeply of the Water of Life so that its spring within us will sustain us and be a sign of God’s presence to those we meet.
We are living in a redemptive time. May we respond to it whole heartily as we follow our governors’ directions to stay home and to be alone. May the spirit of the desert fathers and mothers touch us as we wait for the new life of the Risen Lord. This time of trial, indeed, will pass. In the interim, may we be a sign of both hope and the springtime of Resurrection.