Strangely enough, the movie that keeps coming to mind to match my experience of this Lent has nothing to do with spring or Easter. It is the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The transition to distance learning and our Jesuit community’s adoption of “shelter in place” guidelines have left a real hole in my life, as I’m sure they have for all of us. And it’s not necessarily the big cancelations—the spring break service trip, the social and family events, the public masses—that I have felt the most at this point. It’s the small, daily interactions. Saying hello to a coworker. Listening in on sophomore banter. Even just seeing the vibrant give and take, the lively bustle of the De Smet Jesuit community as it carries on in the classrooms and halls. These are the things that I miss the most. And these are the things that I find myself appreciating anew having taken them for granted all this time.
And that is why I find myself thinking of It’s a Wonderful Life.
We all know how George Bailey was given a chance to appreciate anew the importance of his life by seeing the difference it would make if he had never lived. And now I find myself similarly recognizing the true goodness, the gift, of how God created us as social beings because I am being asked to sacrifice it for a time.
We are meant for community and for love—that is why it hurts so to go without them.
Just so, Lent is a season of going-without, of fasting. This is not because missing out is somehow valuable in itself. Rather, it is a crucial means of training us to truly appreciate the things that we have. By taking seriously the deprivations of Lent, we prepare ourselves to take just as “seriously” the joy and celebrations of Easter. No matter what crosses we have been given, we can train ourselves to wait in hope for the resurrection that only God can provide! Let us take advantage, then, of this season of fasting and this season of crisis. Uniting our sacrifices to those of Christ, let us call to mind the true value of all the gifts we may be missing at this time… and let us wait in hope for the coming vindication that only Christ’s resurrection can promise.