Today I am thinking about Lent and what it means for me this year. Note I wrote “me” because I believe Lent to be a deeply personal time, and what your Lenten journey is, the Lenten journey you need, is unique. How do I know what I need? It’s 2021 and we are embarking on this season, which is often synonymous with sacrifice, repentance and doing without, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also affected each person in a different way. For this pandemic has wrought its devastation in many forms: physically, financially, emotionally and mentally. Yet now I see hope, I see my over 65 family members and friends getting vaccinations, I see my children getting to attend school in person, I see light.
In seeing this light, however faint it may be right now, I can find meaning in Lent that goes beyond how I traditionally saw it. I can take this time to perform the “fast the God desires.” I heard this phrase on the America Media podcast and decided to look it up. What I found was Isaiah Chapter 58 and after I read it I began to think about what this Lent could mean for me. In doing for others, then “light shall rise for me in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”
This particular reading has quite a list of things we can do for others, share with the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, the kinds of things that come front of mind, especially during this time when so many in our community have been victims of economic hardship. But I also read, “remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.” Now I am not directly putting any of these kinds of things out in the media universe, influencer I am not. But how many times have I encountered points of view that do just this? Something for me to consider for sure during Lent, looking at my media diet and determining if there are things that can be eliminated or pared down.
In conclusion, Lent will be a journey for me, I am entering it with intentions to do for others, to seek to eliminate spitefulness and work to seeing the light that will rise in the darkness.
Kim Manca, is a Board Member of the Jesuit Retreat Center (since 2018) . She works as a Development Associate at Recovery Café, San Jose