(Note: I always tend to write more during Lent, and given the current situation, this is kind of serving as a check-in for my brain.)
I tucked them in tonight, my mom and my grandmother. They’re both in that high-risk population we’re protecting right now and my family has them wrapped in bubble wrap.
I’ll social distance my butt off if it helps my grandmother see 98. But giving up church, during Lent and marching to Pascha, that’s really hard. And it’s hard to know that our plans for this holiest of times matter not. Not even a little bit.
I’ve been Orthodox for 16 years this Lent. My life, though so far from holy it’s embarrassing, has become measured by the seasons of the calendar: the fasts, the services, and the feast days.
I missed the Liturgy of the Presanctified gifts last week, because the news starting breaking about the virus here in Indiana. I made it to Liturgy on Sunday, and knew in my heart we were sliding in as the elevator doors closed. Yesterday, the bishops cancelled the Liturgy for more than a couple people behind the altar. And while we believe it is served “on behalf of all and for all,” it’s more comforting to be there.
Anyway, it’s a weird time.
I worked from my mom’s house the past two days, taking care of Oma while mom lined up her FMLA to stay home to care for our matriarch for the duration. Her home health aids can’t promise continuity of care with the virus spreading, so here we are. I’m glad to have mom home anyway.
So on Monday, in between updating our website and editing news stories and conferring with NPR regional editors, I helped Oma with her bath. I made her lunch and we visited.
It felt sacred.
Today, she came out and bugged me while I worked, a little kid behind a wrinkled smile with a mind always working and searching. I love her so much.
We started our day praying together, reading the Prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. I taught her how to cross herself. Mom came home and we ate supper. Then we all prayed.
We read the daily prayers, the scriptures for this day in the calendar (And the Lord told Noah to build an ark, and to enter the ark…) We practiced making our crosses. And the old girl, whose anxiety was visible all day in her drumming fingers and her questions, melted away with a smile.
Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress we have no other help but You.
Lord of the Powers, have mercy on us.
The prayer in time of trouble.
We can do this, she said to my mom. While you’re home. We can do this. I feel better.
As I pulled away in the dark, my chest tight with the worry of the unknown, I know that this service, these living room prayers amid the fears of COVID-19, is everything.
The calendar marches on, and we do what we can. The crocus are coming up in the grass, one of my very favorite things. Holy is everywhere. And I’m fortunate to share it.