When the UCC adopted the “God is still speaking” ad campaign in the early years of this century, we frequently used a quote from Gracie Allen's last letter to her longtime partner and husband George Burns: “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”
It brilliantly captures a core principle of the Congregational tradition, the idea that we still have a lot to learn in our encounter with the holy.
But to be honest, right now, I'm all in for full-stop punctuation. I want the pandemic to just be over, or to at least have clear answers and check-boxes and timetables. And while we're at it, can we just go ahead and arrest the corrupt and lawless last regime that has so tarnished our nation's reputation and self-image? The glacial investigations are like picking at a scab that never heals.
Then there are the weeks we've been hearing that Russia was about to invade and annex portions of Ukraine, with an impotent West whining while doing nothing substantive. It is the 1930's all over again, the Nazi Reich “protecting” ethnic German enclaves in Sudetenland, Memelland, and Danzig. Who knows how many inexplicably mysterious and irreplaceable lives will be lost by the time you read this?
Heck, we don't even know if baseball season is ever going to start, as millionaires and billionaires face off over who gets mo' money from the stadiums we so often subsidize.
Which is all to say I am not in the mood for Lent, for weeks of repentance and “taking stock.” I am not digging “mud season.” I'd rather be digging in the garden, planting vegetables that will help feed me as corporate America exploits economic disruption to raise prices. Yeah... a little cranky.
Seems like a good time for simple comforts, for warm bread and hot soup, for a good book and old movies, for familiar hymns and a story almost two thousand years old, a story of courage and the triumph of love.
This year, my Lent will be an “un-Lent.” I'm not “giving up chocolate” or making grandiose plans. Like the Dude in “The Big Lebowski,” I'm going to abide. Consider this your “pastoral” dispensation to join me.