Imagine Pope Francis declaring, “We are now extending the season of Lent indefinitely and cancelling the celebration of Easter. Effective immediately!” What would seem preposterous on Ash Wednesday, has become our new and evolving reality. Though Easter is not cancelled, many of the services are. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has upended our liturgical seasons, not to mention our everyday lives. Traditionally, Lent is a 40-day period in which Christians give up certain luxuries, commit to certain spiritual disciplines and abstain from the consumption of meat.
Lent, also known as the Season of Grief, has lived up to its name in 2020. A myriad of emotions including shock, disbelief, denial, anger, depression, bargaining, yearning and acceptance, can be felt as we lose our anchors of connection, routine and purpose. We are being asked to give up much of what we took for granted. Travelling, socializing with family and friends, and going to the movies are currently some of the untouchable “luxuries.” Ironically, others are giving up meat because of its absence in the grocery stores! Forty days of Lent now seem like a cake walk when facing the unknown length of time required to “flatten the curve” to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Truly, this is like no other Lent. It’s imperative that we commit to healthy practices and spiritual disciplines to stay well in body, mind and spirit for the long haul. Acknowledging what we are experiencing helps us to cope, regroup and adapt as human beings.
Keep with or establish new daily routines. Be creative in the ways you find purpose and fulfillment. What can you do to ground yourself? Setting limits on the amount of time watching the news and reading about this novel virus can help maintain psychological balance. Staying hydrated, exercising, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables is critically important to your physical well-being. We have been thrust into a desert experience. Keep walking, take in the sunshine and carry your water bottle! When in doubt, turn to the Centers for Disease Control for accurate and up to date information about COVID-19.
Also, with more time on your hands, after you’ve washed them, consider this free online course being offered by Yale, “The Science of Well-Being,” to help build more productive habits and increase a sense of happiness. This is the most popular class in their history!
Stay vigilant. Stay connected, as we are one in this together. Stay determined to be well! This may be the longest Lenten Season on record, yet the Resurrected Christ still renews us and strengthens us. We believe Easter is never cancelled, as it is continually celebrated within us and around us.
~Eileen McGartland, RN
SSND Wellness Staff