“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” - C. S. Lewis
In the past few months, I have seen young friends, after anticipating their high school graduations for four years, resign themselves to virtually “walking” on Zoom. I have seen engaged couples, dreaming of their weddings for several decades, reluctantly decide to live-stream their services from an almost-empty church. I have seen a lawyer, having reached an ambition of his whole career—the opportunity to try a case before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals—disappointedly agree to a settlement by phone call.
Hamlet is a play that ponders, among other things, the human urge to direct. In the context of a play, a director has the power to lead and guide the actors to fulfill his vision. A play within the play, commissioned by the Danish Prince, is a central catalyst of the plot (“The play’s the thing/Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”).
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was an international panic, it was a personal crisis, it was a freak of nature, it was a governmental conspiracy, it was the death-blow to globalism, it was the death-blow to localism, it was an extended vacation, it was an interminable grounding, we we were in it together, we could kill each other coughing, we had unbroken family time, we had cordoned corners for everyone’s Zoom meetings, we were riding bikes and planting gardens and doing home projects, we were hoarding beans and hand sanitizer and toilet paper, we were all going to
I distinctly remember the realization as the camera shutters clicked. We had gathered to bury our grandfather, and now we posed for posterity. Suddenly I realized that with this funerary passage, something new had happened, something I had never experienced before. The oldest generation had vanished, and each succeeding generation, without being consulted, had simply moved up. Nobody asked if this would be alright with them. It just happened. This meant our parents--impossible!--would be the next to die. Plucked from the grandchild group, we cousins were the new parents.
Like it or not, a kind of Lent has greeted everyone this season, albeit in the forms of forced social-distancing and the compulsory self-denial of certain goods or activities. (Blessed are they who have trampolines?) For Christians who don’t observe the historic church practice, consider it a forced Lent. For those who do observe Lent, the recent weeks of sheltering at home serve only to extend or intensify the great fast.