A Different Kind of Lent

Lent, for many of us Christians, is a time of giving up something that you can’t seem to go without, or a time to truly change one’s ways, maybe giving up negativity and focusing on the positive in life.  Maybe, if we can manage forty days of a positive change in our lives, we could hold onto this turn-around attitude, and make it part of our new lifestyle.

The forty days of Lent, and how it is observed, is a personal choice for each individual.  It is a choice that each person gives serious consideration to, as to what will be their sacrifice.  Will it be giving up something, or adding a task that may be difficult, but somewhat of a personal improvement plan.  Many brave souls may attempt both, sacrifice and personal improvement.

Fast-forward a bit, and we as a nation are introduced to COVID-19.  The virus was out there, circling around in the global news, all the while creeping closer and closer; however, it couldn’t happen to us, could it?  Well, it seems as though the entire world has been thrown into a form of Lent.  A very big Lent.  Sacrifice.  Do better.  Help others.  Be patient.  Practice self-control.  Be a better version of yourself.

This era of pandemic is something that my generation, as well as some ahead of me and some behind, has never experienced.  I’ve heard the stories of the Great Depression from my grandparents, and saw from their behavior, that they learned to value what they had, rather than waste and take for granted that there would always be more.  Let’s face it, this repurposing gig didn’t just recently become the new chic way of living; being resourceful goes way back to another era, and it was the result of another catastrophic time.

9/11 has come to my mind a great deal, lately.  I remember the same feeling of disbelief about 9/11, as I initially felt about this current problem, regarding COVID-19.  “No, this can’t be happening, the government will get a handle on this; we’re the USA, for crying out loud!”  “That plane must have accidently crashed into the Tower.”  “This virus can be silenced!”   No and No.  The correlation that I see with 9/11 and COVID-19 is the manner in which people are behaving, at least what I am seeing, currently; however, I wonder how long it will hold.

There’s a level of kindness and compassion that is not regularly exhibited.  Don’t misunderstand, I know some folks that are kind and compassionate all of the time, and I work to emulate their behavior more and more every day.  If you are lucky enough to work with such individuals on a regular basis, work to pass onto the world, the good that you experience every day.  Hopefully, you will be a positive example that others will mimic to the world; a positive ripple-effect, so to speak.

A few days after 9/11, I was walking down the main street of the university town that I lived in, at the time.  A young man, that seemed to be college age was approaching me, and when we were to pass one another on the sidewalk, he stopped.  His stopping caused me to stop, as we were the only two on that stretch of the sidewalk.  It was unusual to just stop, especially when people were always in a hurry to get to and from the next objective in life; however, this day was different.  The disaster of 9/11 and all of its collateral damage caused a pause in the way of the world.  Maybe those objectives in life that we all rushed to and from had changed, as had the landscape and feel of our country.

As the young man and I both came to a halt, he spoke these five simple words….”How are you doing, today?”  As I stood there, shocked and impressed with his genuine kindness, tears welled in my eyes, and I said, “I think I’m ok, how about you?”  We gave our brief, yet caring responses to each other, wished each other good days, ahead, and moved on.  Those five simple words changed the way that I felt about our world.  There was hope.  I was reminded that people are genuinely kind and good-natured.  That encounter was close to 19 years ago, and I still remember it well, and I’m grateful for that young man.

I’m glad that I can’t remember how many years it took for the world to become rush, rush, rush, again, but it did.  That feeling after 9/11 when people seemed to genuinely care how you were doing; people took more time to genuinely listen; our nation got set on its rear-end, and it caused people to realign their thinking, to a kinder way.  Then, after (you fill in the blank) years, we were back to the hurried pace of our world.

I see this now, as my husband and I walk at a park, social distancing, of course.  There’s a feeling in the air, even if it’s not said with words, it’s said with a smile and eye contact… “How are you doing, today?”

With the many catastrophic events that our nation and our world have experienced, we are called to be better people; we are called to be good stewards of this planet; we are called to sacrifice.  All in all, we are called to participate in a different type of Lent.  This is not the type that you choose to participate in, this is the type that requires everyone’s involvement.

These times cause me to reflect on the Bible, more than I regularly do. There’s a nudge to think of Holy Week: The Last Supper, the Crucifixion of Christ, and His resurrection, which no one anticipated.  All in all, an extremely intense and grueling period of time.  The uncertainty of this COVID-19 is like an extremely long Holy Week.  We need to trust that there will be a light at the end of this intense struggle.

We will have learned, we will have sacrificed, and we will have been made stronger.  My hope is that we will also become kinder, in a more permanent way.  One in which we won’t need another catastrophe to be reminded to ask a stranger, “How are you doing, today?”

16 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Lent

  1. Marilyn lennard

    Thank you for your thoughtful ,endearing insights. It was especially meaningful to me because we are not getting old…we are old❣️ Time slips by so fast these days and often we don’t stop to thank our Lord for all the blessings He has provided. Our love to you and your dear family. And thank you again, I will try harder to give up complaining and to be more thankful! Psalm 91:11. Xxoo Mrs l


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Marilyn! I love the Book of Psalms, and Psalm 91 is a favorite! Psalm 46:10 is especially singing to me these days; I find it so calming, and it settles my mind. Be well!


    1. Tim Godsey

      Wow Carol, so on point. It’s too bad we have to have these reset moments to ground us yet again. Your ability to put on paper all the emotions and thoughts associated with COVID-19 and still uplift us all is amazing. I have no doubt that encounter with the young man on the street left a lasting impression on him as well. Thank you so much for taking the time and putting pen to paper, well done.
      God Bless,


      1. Thank you, Tim! There are always special moments that make an everlasting impression. The ones with friends, such as you and Paula, are too great to count; however, they’ve created a mountain of fun and endearing memories.


  2. Karen Shepherd Dovigi

    Such a reassuring, calming piece of story writing – especially needed at this uncertain time in our lives. I remember an act of kindness shown to me and my family many years ago. Having just moved to the USA, leaving all my family and friends behind and in unchartered waters, a welcoming neighbor walked across the cul-de-sac with a warm, freshly baked pie for my family. Such a kind and warm gesture and one I have never forgotten. Little did she know this forever resonated in my heart and to this day reminds me there is goodness in this world. You were my first “American” friend Carol and your act of kindness will stay with me forever. And…..almost as important…..you introduced me to Blue Moon beer and fun convertibles. Cheers my friend! 🍻
    To happier, safer times ahead! 😊


    1. Oh Karen, such sweet words; thank you! Together, we also taught our children that it was ok and necessary, to ask a neighbor if they had any spare Diet Coke/Diet Pepsi…. we helped each other survive in small ways, with big meaning. Love you, Karen!


  3. Ellin North

    Hi Carol, This is Ellin, Eileen’s childhood friend from New York now relocated to Chapel Hill. She send me your lenten post knowing how I would appreciate. It was such an uplifting reminder of how we should be in the not-9/11 and not-covid times of life. It will be my prayer that for all of us, most of all myself, this “reset moment” will be the one that keeps for a lifetime. God bless you as you write with such clarity and heart. (Do you mind if I post this on my facebook page? I know a lot of people who are filled with fear and anger and politics. Maybe this would spread a calm and helping spirit.)


    1. Hi Ellin… thank you for your kind words! I love how you call it a “reset moment”… great phrase!!!!! You are blessed, and I’m sure that she is, too, to have been friends with Eileen for so long; she’s a treasure! Yes, if you think this will help anyone that you know that is emotionally suffering, during this pandemic, please feel free to share. Again, many thanks for you kind words. Be well!


  4. Trish Swanson

    Carol I’m so happy to be reconnecting with your blog, and so impressed at your commitment to your writing talent! Your writing always makes me thoughtful. This time, even though we don’t have much time left in this Lenten Season, I’m going to recommit to spending time in nature each day appreciating and taking deep breathes mindfully connecting to God/Spirit/the Divine, etc
    Thank you again!


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