A Lighter Touch

I begin each day with a search to find out if the Covid-19 vaccine might be available for my age group. So far, the answer repeats from the previous day, “Not yet.” I ponder “How long?” and then turn to other things. It is amazing how fast the vaccine has been produced and the task of distribution is enormous. Even to be in a “not yet” line is itself a place of amazing hope. My patience and impatience is tempered with the reality that for all too many around the globe, there is no line and not even the hopeful words “not yet.”

Lent is a season of “not yet” and often viewed as a season of preparation and reorientation of our life and soul. Our posture in Lent, and throughout our life, would be enhanced if we could offer the world an open heart and an open hands. Lent could be described as a season for “taking a knee” if only our kneeling could result in our being able to stand up for what is right and good. Lent is for me an opportunity to change gear, a time to stop, rest, and then begin anew. Consider the words from poet and priest, Malcolm Guite. Below you will find sections 32-34 of his poem Quarantine Quatrains written in the midst of this pandemic.

Perhaps in all this crisis, all this pain,
This reassessment of our loss and gain
Nature rebukes our brief authority
Yet offers us the chance to start again

And this time with a new humility,
With chastened awe, and mutual courtesy;
To re-accept the unearned gift of life
With gratitude, with joy and charity.

Perhaps we’ll learn to live without so much
To nurture and to cherish, not to clutch,
And, if I’m spared, I’ll hold the years I’m given
With gentler tenure and a lighter touch.

So soon after Lent we find ourselves returning to old habits and old ways. Perhaps the same might be true, once we move beyond the present pandemic, we shall forget all those promises we made for new ways of living. Might we have the courage to live with open hearts and open hands and live with a “gentler tenure and a lighter touch”. You can read and hear Guite read the entire poem or shorter sections, using the following link

Amidst the noise
Amidst the din
Help me to be still
Help me to know
That You are God.

Amidst the clamor
Amidst getting and forgetting
Help me to start again
Help me to nurture and cherish
Not to clutch.

With this gift of life
With gratitude, joy, and charity
May I live
With gentler tenure and a lighter touch.

4 thoughts on “A Lighter Touch

  1. I particularly like this prayer, Richard. It was during the Lenten season last year when we begin to feel the full weight of the pandemic at the realization that our children could not come home for Easter. And the emotional din, noise and clamor we felt weighed heavily on our hearts. But somehow we managed to focus on our gratitude at being well, at having our health, food, resources and enough common sense to take safety precautions seriously. Here we are a year later saying, “We made it!”, while we wait for our vaccinations. I believe that what Guite is really saying is, “Learn from this experience and be better because of it, and yes, start again.” It is heartbreaking that 500,000 people won’t have this opportunity. Enjoying your blog, thank you!


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