Margaret Duncan ’17 | March 3, 2021
On Ash Wednesday, I return to an in-person Mass for the first time in 12 months, almost exactly to the day.
In an unadorned lecture hall, I stand apart from the eight others in attendance. When the ashes come, they are sprinkled on the top of our bowing heads, trickling down onto our masked faces. The Eucharist, like so many other things this year, comes in a bubble of plastic, protecting and protected, shielded and sanitized. As I hold Christ in my hand, tears come unbidden. Even here, even after a year away, plastic barriers remain between us.
If this was a different year, Lent might arrive with its usual gusto — a second shot at New Year’s resolutions, bold promises made, with the added motivation of some good old-fashioned Catholic guilt (and a bit of real devotion, too). Lent might have arrived in grandeur, in violet robes of power, asking us to be a bit less human to become a bit more like God.
And yet, it is not a different year, unfortunately. This year, Lent arrives like everything else has during a global pandemic: through a screen, pressing through plastic, untouching and untouchable. It arrives quietly to a world of people already separated and already sacrificing.
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