A Stable Faith by Rev. Shayna Appel
During March, Christians mark the days of Lent. Lent actually began on February 17th with Ash Wednesday, but it lasts for the forty days leading to Easter, so the entire month of March this year is a month for fasting and penitence.
Now, fasting and penitence may seem peculiar practices for those of us who choose Unitarian Universalism as our faith journey. But, as Bruce Marshall notes in his reflection on Lent [What We Share, Collected Meditations. Skinner House Books. 2002.], “…when the earth is barren from winter — our lives too may seem on hold, waiting for a miracle.”
While this may be true during Lent in any year, it seems particularly so this year. We finally have a vaccine for the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic that has turned our lives upside down for the past twelve months, but we’re not out of the woods quite yet. We successfully defeated Donald Trump in the November election, but a violent insurrection, a failed impeachment trial, and the threat of future legal actions against him make it painfully clear, he’s not leaving the public square anytime soon. The Biden administration came into power atop a mighty wave of hope – hope for the fight against COVID, hope for our planet, hope for unity, hope for economic recovery – but they first need to dig out of so much incompetence and neglect from the previous administration much of the reason for that hope has not yet come to light.
This year, the season of Lent, this month of March, seem well suited to ‘doing without’ as a way to maybe nourish our spirituality. As the earth still is “doing without,” as we reach the end of our store of energy and spirit that was gathered and packed away during the harvest. Now we do without and await a word of hope – the promise of a future. [Marshall]
Suffering and struggle come to us, whether there’s room for it in our theology or not. [Marshall] Thankfully, the faith it requires to give meaning and depth to the suffering and struggle is not reserved for Christians. Beyond the barrenness of this season, our hungering and our penitence, there is relief, there is reprieve, and there is reason again to hope.
Spring will come, and with it, new life. But for now we must dig deep and continue to wait.
With you in the ‘trenches’!