Quarantine Soul Care: On Lent, Spring, and Doubling Back toward Life

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This is part of an ongoing series during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To engage further in the #QuarantineSoulCare series, click here.

Lenten means “springtime” in Middle English, which itself comes from the word lengthen. The sun arches back toward us, leaning in to life, sunlight hours growing longer each day. The darkness has not won; the world will thaw again. It is time to prepare for new life. . . . We have gone around the circle once more: Life retreated to death, now doubling back toward life.

But not yet.

Hope comes bundled with endurance and long waits in ambiguity. We have been barren and cold, but life was not entirely snuffed out. We endured and held on for the thaw to come. Hope builds the bridge that pulls us out of suffering and points us toward the path—the arduous, winding, uphill climb—leading, eventually, to joy. Hope steps out boldly and brings an umbrella.

[…]

Since time began, the earth has spun its inhabitants through [this] yearlong drama of life and death and life again. The springtime chapter of this drama hints at the ultimate redemption: shalom. This ancient Hebrew word means wholeness, and it describes a world where everything is put right. Not just one or two things settled and lovely but all creation in harmony.

But our world clearly doesn’t overflow with wholeness just now. From our most intimate relationships to the most global affairs—and everything in between—we are at war. Conflict and catastrophe pervade every community, group, and interaction between you and me, us and them, people and nature, children and parents, future and past. Yet we believe the days are lengthening. From the garden beginning to the eternal city of light at the end, the Christian account of the world is a story of hope. We are a people of eschatology, citizens of a Kingdom that has been promised and begun, but not yet seen. We journey through darkness, bearing crushing burdens and devastating realities, but we have heard the notes of a beautiful song.

Yes, darkness looms palpable. The groaning is real, and despair always whispers at our backs. But the Christian faith centers itself, from first to last, in the hope of shalom, that redemption will come not only for you and me but for all creation.

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On the heels of winter, born out of the broken shell of death, new life bursts forth. We are so vulnerable, so fragile; the risk is high, the chances uncertain. Surely floods and drought, weeds and pests will assail us. Openhearted, we tenaciously offer everything we are to the same world notorious for its fierce tendency to utterly destroy. We believe that in the end, every bit of creation shall be caught up and made new.


As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is his daily arrival. He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground.

–Hosea 6:1-3, The Message

May today you step out boldly in the hope of shalom and the assurance of God’s abiding presence. #quarantinesoulcare Click To Tweet

Today’s reading was taken from All Shall Be Well by Catherine McNiel.

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