We’ll let the Bard ponder whether to be or not to be, just one big ontological headache if you ask me. That’s not our question as we transition from the Lenten season, speaking of ontology for goodness’ sakes (Okay Lenten Reflection Self Editor here…we apologize for late night, rectoral, “he didn’t have any social life so he took philosophy in college” vocabulary. We hereby ban further use of “ontology”) not to mention phenomenology (LRSE again…then why mention that too? Banned!)! No, our question is rather to watch or not to watch (Whew, safely and blandly existential here…..LRSE approved), and for Holy Week, my answer more simply is, “No.” Just a simple, though slightly tautological (LRSE gives up! Banned!) No! Why?
Holy Week is a full if brief season of the Christian year, our High Holidays culminating in the Easter Festival. This last 40 Days of Lent has been unexpectedly and traumatically penitential in so many ways we did not expect. Ironically, the etymology (yeah, well, okay so he really did not have a social life in college after all!) of the very term “quarantine” derives from the Venetian word for 40, quarantena, the length of time medieval Venetian doges, or civil leaders, required incoming merchant sailors to spend on an island before disembarking in Venice during the dreadful Black Plagues. The Venetians learned to their horror that literally the biblical 40 days was more life saving than the more economically reasonable but medically insufficient trentino 30 day isolation. And we are arguing today over how long to socially distance. Really?!
I am re-aligning my Lenten disciplines for Holy Week. I am quarantining from those screaming about quarantines (yes, the double tautology score in one reflection! One reflection!). Beginning Sunday, the day after tomorrow, I am fasting from news media until after Easter Day. Not playing in your room Wolf (and who would name their kid Wolf with that last name? He clearly should be named Donner!). I won’t go out front Erin. Not tonight Tucker! Don’t need more hours Brian! Praying for you Chris. Breaking news can break without me. I predict it’s going to be a very difficult week with rising infection rates, more governmental orders, more poignantly heart-breaking and heart-warming stories, daily news briefings and wildly fluctuating markets. More of transmission, death, recovery and heroism. All without me.
There are limits to the human capacity to absorb, and I have reached mine. I need the cleansing focus of Holy Week to remind me about the most threatening contagion ever unleashed upon humankind, and the dramatic antidote applied to cure us. Reading, journaling, comedies, music…all that is great media for Holy Week. Candles, long walks, house cleaning, bible reading, speaking with those I love and care about, or simply looking up to the sky are my renewed disciplines this week. Had enough yet?
- What a great moment to refine, redefine and re-focus our disciplines from Lent into Holy Week. Which spiritual discipline, practice or life-giving experience seems important to embrace right now? What brings you spiritual comfort with a nourishing experience of God’s living presence?
- What in this strange moment is not working to bring you closer to God and can be expunged during Holy Week for the benefit of your faith?
- What’s your plan to follow Jesus intimately and transformatively during the next seven days? What does Transfiguration look like for you?!