To say this year’s Lent has been difficult and different is an understatement. We all feel the realities of this global pandemic, especially the strain on relationships. My husband and I constantly remind ourselves that even though we were away from our families for Easter, missed a baptism of a beautiful baby girl, had two weddings postponed, could not celebrate other achievements with friends, and will miss a few concerts, we are so fortunate to have stable jobs, a place to live, and to be surrounded by a vibrant community at Nazareth Farm. I can think of few other places where I’d rather be stuck at home; we have 100+ acres to explore, daily laughs around the dinner table, and neighbors who walk by to chat across the creek. God is truly alive here.
However, I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and fear at times. That even as a resurrection people, we have to go through the waiting and uncertainty before the new day. It is not always a resounding joy with a clear look ahead. Just this past week I made the heartbreaking decision to cancel our June service retreats and only tentatively plan on hosting the second half of the summer. Summer service retreats at Nazareth Farm are such a life-giving, holy time for all of us, and we are going to miss the opportunity to grow with each other. However, God provides comfort and strength during these times of isolation and adaptation.
For instance, typically Holy Week is a bright, familiar celebration at the Farm; handfuls of old friends visit, we drop off Easter baskets at neighbors, so many voices reflect passionately on Good Friday, and we get to hear how God is moving in the lives of our friends. This year we participated in the Paschal Triduum as a community of 8 instead of 25+. While the communal prayers and support were different, we still journeyed with Jesus towards the Cross. By feeling my own isolation and the struggle to stay vigilant, I felt a deeper understanding of His journey and those of the disciples. Adoration in the O’Connor Room, connected to Farmers all over the country, was one of the pivotal moments of Holy Week for me. Jesus and the waiting for the Cross brought us all together; we could sit, forgetting the uncertainty in the world, and be fully enamored with our God. I allowed that love from my Holy Hour to spill into the rest of Holy Week, into our 11 mile Good Friday Hike, to a quiet moment venerating the Cross, and finally to a joy filled Easter Service with my community. God is truly alive here!
While we all wait for our chance to hug our friends again and sit on Ronnie’s couch watching a movie, I need the joy of Easter. I need the Divine Mercy of Jesus to show me grace and love each day in my routines. I need to allow myself to be present to those around me, in-person and virtually, instead of walking in fear of sickness. I need to remind myself that God is alive, and that God is with me. As we continue the Easter season, know that we’re praying for you, enthusiastically waiting for the day we can all be together in the holler again.
-by Allyson Petry, executive director of Nazareth Farm