Lenten Casualties

It’s the most perfect Lenten season I have ever seen.

For those of you who aren’t deeply into the Christian calendar, Lent is a 40 day period before holy week, corresponding to Jesus’s own meditations in preparation for his Crucifixion, a dark & painful time of sacrifice & self-denial. It’s traditional to give something up for the Lenten season.

It could be something serious like alcohol or meat. Or you could quit smoking. Or quit watching hockey.

Here I am, a blogger who gets to see the best stuff onstage. And I’ve been forced by the COVID19 pandemic to give up a big part of my life.

This weekend I was expecting to see Peggy Baker and Nederlands Tans Theater (including another collaboration between Crystal Pite & Jonathan Young, who previously created Betroffenheit & Revisor).

I suppose I can wait until next season when Pite will be back with something new at Crow’s Theatre.

And the Toronto Symphony still show April beginning with piano concerti, first from Jan Lisiecki playing Beethoven then Yuja Wang (!) playing the two Brahms concerti. Will those concerti concerts happen in early April?  Wang’s first one aptly on Maundy Thursday?

I doubt it.

Will the Canadian Opera Company’s spring season of Der Fliegende Hollander and Aida still happen? We already lost another Dutchman, the one at the Metropolitan Opera that was to be the high definition broadcast last week. I have yet to read a positive review of François Girard’s Dutchman, so he may be the one person in NY who isn’t upset that the Met has closed down.

More to the point, though, singers & artists are taking a beating in the cancellations. Do creditors understand if you lose a gig this way?

This is a time to think about the meaning of life.


Nevermind toilet paper. COVID19 has parked its big butt on the railway tracks of our lives, and suddenly we can’t get through. We can’t help looking in a kind of mirror, as we contemplate what we’ve given up, whether it was by choice or forced upon us. What kind of society will we be in the weeks ahead, and I am not thinking of what I can or cannot buy.

In the Great Depression people supposedly looked out for one another. Will we do so now?

I can’t escape the pun on the season. At a time when many people will be borrowing to survive, will it be Lent or that other kind of lent, the one the banks love so much?
My church cancelled the service this weekend. I don’t know how many weeks they’ll be closed, but it troubles me picturing a season of Lent without a Holy Week, without Easter. If Lent is associated with Jesus’s time in the wilderness, of fasting & sacrifice what does it mean if we cannot emerge from that wilderness, from that challenging test? It is apt that we are being asked to socially distance ourselves, when Jesus’ own time in the wilderness was precisely that, an isolation.

And perhaps when we always know that Easter dinners & parades follow Lent & Good Friday, we get too blase about it all, complacent because we’re so sure of the happy ending.  But right now the happy ending is anything but certain.

There seem something wonderfully just about the way we’re being confronted with our own materialism.  Is this all we amount to?

I’ve gained a few pounds. Eating is a solace to me, and I cannot help it given the horrors I see in the news and social media.

When you hear of artists and companies needing help, take the Lenten message to heart. Lend your aid, your dollars, your help. That way there may be a resurrection, art & culture rising again.   We may isolate ourselves to survive but we must look to those around us.

Ideas and more Ideas

This entry was posted in Essays, Personal ruminations & essays, Spirituality & Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

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