Lent for everyone

COVID-19 has made this one heck of a Lent.

The 40-day period leading up to Easter is a time when many Christians focus on doing without. Some give up things they enjoy. Some fast, which can range from forgoing meals frequently to just skipping meat on Fridays. Some devote extra time to prayer. Some try extra hard to do good for others. Some meditate on the suffering of Jesus’ execution described in the Bible.

Similarly, as Passover approaches, Jews focus on the Israelites’ 40 years wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt.

Dwelling on barrenness and death may not be enjoyable, but it prepares us: both to endure the inevitable hardships of the world and to appreciate the good times more, such as the upcoming holidays.

It’s a cleanse, meant to clear out some of the worldly clutter and selfishness from our hearts and minds.

Now, with a deadly disease discovered right here in the Tri-Lakes area, all of us have to get used to doing without. Schools are on remote teaching, restaurants and bars are on take-out only, movie theaters and gyms are shut down, and many church services and other events have been canceled.

It will probably get worse before it gets better — but it will eventually get better. As testing for COVID-19 expands, we will no doubt discover many more cases than we know about now. Worldwide, most people who have gotten the disease have recovered, but thousands have died. Some may die of it here.

We can do something to reduce those deaths, if we are disciplined. Each of us can minimize the spread of this disease by following all the protocols being recommended by our state and federal governments. Stay away from other people as much as possible. When you get together with others outside your household, stay 6 feet away from them. Wash your hands often and thoroughly, for 20 seconds each time. Be a stickler for cleanliness on your person, in your home and at your workplace, if you cannot work from home. Disinfect phones, doorknobs, keyboards and mice, and other commonly used surfaces frequently.

It is an ironic coincidence that this is happening during Lent, but if thinking about the holy season helps bolster you through this time of deprivation, by all means go with it. It would be nice if this crisis ended with Lent at Easter, but people who know more than us, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have said it probably won’t be.

Still, this time of trial will no doubt do us all some good. It can help us get to know ourselves a little better, become a little bit more self-disciplined and appreciate how good it is to be with each other, when we get to do that again.