Lent in the time of Coronavirus

By Kathy Harben

On February 26, 2020, Christians around the world began their annual reflection and preparation for Lent. Top of mind was: what would I sacrifice for 40 days to signify Christ’s journey into the desert and temptation by Satan? As a sign of my commitment to Creation, I vowed to go without single-use plastic. No bags for bananas or broccoli. No plastic lids. Only reusable bags for groceries.

Fast forward to mid-March and the darkness of Lent reached a new level with the reality that we are all vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve endured illness and deaths of loved ones, young and old; greed and hoarding; lost jobs and income. But the light and joy of Easter are coming. Light shines from healthcare workers risking their lives to save us; donations that are feeding and housing the most vulnerable; and millions of people staying home to “flatten the curve.”

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Yet another source of light and blessing for Creation during Lent 2020 is that practices to stop the pandemic are also reducing our carbon footprint. Families are spending time together in new ways: walking, biking, planting gardens. Skies are clearer because people are working, learning, traveling, and yes worshiping without driving or flying.

Lent isn’t over yet. In these last dark days, what might we do to increase the light that we know Easter will bring? Maybe we will care for Creation by continuing Lenten sacrifices and pandemic practices past Lent, past Easter, and past the pandemic? There’s still time to reflect…

Kathy Harben is a member of the GIPL Advisory Council and an active member of Central Presbyterian Church located in downtown Atlanta.  Now retired, she is a former senior-level communications director for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), covering the anthrax bioterrorism event (2001), the SARS outbreak (2003), Hurricane Katrina (2005), and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.  Kathy is active in her church’s green team ministry and volunteers with GIPL frequently.