by Marie Duquette
Beginnings. It is the beginning of Lent. I begin again to write. I begin again to resist the practice. I return to this table, driven by guilt, and a desire to honor my commitment to myself.
I begin again.
God, I fear the practice of writing. Once I did not. I loved painting the pictures of babies newborn and toddlers mispronouncing and adventures planned, begun, remembered. Of joy incarnate.
Yet now, in the final quarter of life, my heart and soul and minds eye are brimming with visions of the world’s pain, the grimmest truths about what your beloved people do to one another. I see transforming trauma and growing grief. I fear finding words to convey the truth of now lest the images I have captured run free, no longer confined in a cardiac container stained with blood, the lid not quite fitting.
Beginnings. It is the beginning of Lent. I am beginning a project I have thought about for a year. Last year, I was going to write Prayers I Never Wanted to Need as my Lenten practice. One a day I told myself. The idea emerged when I witnessed agony unbound in a cramped courtroom where stoic defendants silently sobbed.
Then sleet and snow and dangerous driving conditions left us ashless, our beginning ritual rerouted. We separated to the safety of our homes.
And then my mother died.
And then Covid19 closed the church doors and we began to communicate, to worship you, through screens, needing more lights, and cords, screens of green and swiping apps to make it happen. At first it was exciting.
And then Jean died.
Still we persisted, recording our exile, proclaiming resurrection from the graveyard.
And then John and Chadwick and Ruth died.
Cancer and Corona caught colleagues, companions, and kin.
We wandered. We wondered. We monitored maps, checked charts, counted corpses.
We mourned our mortality when the cardiac cadence of one hundred thousand citizens ceased.
We watched Italy and were glad we didn’t need masks. Or refrigerated trucks outside hospitals.
And then we did.
Beginnings. The beginning of trauma tumbles hope, and yet
Beginnings can connote a fresh start; renewal; rebirth. Anticipation of rejuvenation.
Help me begin again. Find my cadence.
The ancestors who lived through plagues and poverty and torture; injustices too many to tally, leaned into you. Sang songs that sustained. Prayed prayers they never wanted to need.
I begin to cry. I cry to you. Good God! My God, please. PLEASE. God. Breathe into this world new beginnings. Hone our hope. Heat homes gone cold. Connect us more clearly in community. In Christ. Lift the lives of those driven to despair. Protect the unprotected. Build up the broken.