Notes from Jan

Wright’s Right, This is a Season of Lament

April 2, 2020


Church, as a building, won’t be open for business Palm Sunday or Easter. This reality leaves me feeling like Lent’s been extended or as one church posted outside their door, ” Hadn’t planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.”

Who had?

Another friend linked me to N.T.Wright’s piece in Time: “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed to. (3/29/20)  While Christianity  may not give answers, Wright offers hope and perspective during this season of lamentations, ours and God’s.

Yesterday my son dropped off groceries from a safe distance and I started to cry. He asked behind his mask,”Mom, are you losing it?’

“Yes, sometimes. It’s seeing you, not on a screen but alive and breathing.”

Ever since Jud died, I’ve lived alone but this feels so different. Sometimes,  my prayers leak out like groans and sobs and fears come in waves. My mind proclaims, “It is well with my soul” but my heart begs to differ.  There are some days when my heart and mind don’t seem to be on speaking terms.  Fear muscles in between, anxious thoughts for me, them, you and we, the people.

Yesterday, after hanging up from talking with God, who’s never  first to disconnect, I checked my email.  AAA sent me this tip, “How to keep your car maintained during a driving hiatus.”


My car’s ten years old but all I plan to do someday is wash it, while singing happy birthday.

Back to N.T. Wright. He reminded me my groaning prayers, like yours, may be the Holy Spirit  praying words for  and through us:

“As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.  And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope.  New wisdom for our leaders? Now there’s a thought.”

Yes, there’s a thought, a”balm in Gilead” to heal and tend  both mind and heart.







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  • Reply Dan Russ April 2, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    How long, O Lord? Good Lord, deliver us.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      Yes, dear Dan and Kathy, how long?
      Lord, have mercy.

  • Reply James Griffin April 2, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    “The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
    Praying for Jan. Give my best to Chad.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you, James. I’ll pass along your good wishes. Thank you for your prayers. We all need each other.

  • Reply Valerie McCoy April 2, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Oh, how I understand your lamentation in these challenging days. Yesterday I made a cream cheese, lemon pound cake and called our son to say that I would leave it on the back porch for him to pick up. Afterwards I, too, wept because I really wanted a well-needed ‘son hug’. But a broad smile and a thank-you will have to do for now. I know God is near, I just wish I was more ‘grace’ful rather than fearful.
    Thank you Jan for knowing our hearts and for not being afraid to share our fears. For in the end we WILL be able to say, “Hail thee Festival Day…”
    Much love to you

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      Oh, what a day that will be, dear Valerie!
      I baked a coffee cake yesterday, but not to share. One can do just so much Kale. I needed the comfort from the scent of cinnamon baking.

  • Reply Alice April 2, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, the season of Lament. A year ago during Lent Scot McKnight preached a powerful sermon one Sunday morning on LAMENT as the core meaning of the season – not giving up this or that but from the Gospels the place and (dare I say “therapy”?) of lament. So thanks for connecting me with NT Wright as we deal with covid-19 on our doorstep turning our world upside-down.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 2:11 pm

      We all h ave much for which to lament, besides this virulent virus attacking the world and those we love. May peace, like a river, attend your soul, dear Alice.

  • Reply Suzy April 2, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Jan: So glad you have seen Tom Wright’s essay. Wisdom and perspective that we needed to hear.

    Have you heard the recording by a Nashville on line choir singing “It is well with my Soul” — fabulous way to start each day and stay in a place of peace.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      I just heard it, thanks to a Gordon professor forwarding it to me. Music helps but as for “staying in a place of peace”, I find I come in and out of it, even though I know no pit’s deeper than God’s love.

  • Reply dale April 2, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Thanks Jan. I appreciate the thought that Christianity is here to bring hope for those who suffer and not answers for why there is suffering.

    Our job is to comfort and not convince. Samuel Johnson once said, “people need to be reminded more than instructed.” This is our time to remind others of how much they are loved and not to be instructed in our faith.


    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      A good word from a good man, which you are, Dale.

  • Reply Dorothy Petre April 2, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Jan, I’m sending you a huge hug through the internet I know I can identify with your feelings, thank God He can’t be distanced from us, that is the best news yet!
    Hang onto all the good you can absorb and let God put courage in your heart.
    Dede Petre (all the way from NM)

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    How wonderful to hear from you, Dede. You delivered years of sunshine to the Balance and Wellness Center at Gordon. Now, you’re living in a place known for its sunny climate. Thank you for reading and responding. We are all in this together.

  • Reply Jeri Mahurin April 2, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you Jan, for the blessings your send us! You always bring a good word in season, sorely needed. Sending love and prayers to you. We all are missing the face to face encounters that, in looking back, were terribly taken for granted. Hoping for a day soon when we can be with our loved ones physically and not just virtually. But am presently thanking the Lord for technology and how we can use it to refresh and communicate, even if only via texts (or Zoom calls!). Thank you also, Dale, for your reminders on how we should use our faith with our community. Love that!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 9:11 pm

      Sending safe-hugs to you and Ron…I’m more than 6 feet away. Yes, technology is a good gift, especially in times like these.

  • Reply Nancy Sheys April 2, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    This week I remember 3 years ago when my beloved went to be with the Lord. I miss him so much. However, what a privilege to be a Christian and learn from each other. There is a special gift when we get together even though it’s on our electronics. Even though I’ve not met many of you, I’m encouraged by your thoughts. I’m strengthened by your responses of encouragement and understanding. We need each other. Jan, we need to keep reading your writing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you, Nancy. Writing and connecting in this way is a life-link for me, too.

  • Reply Radina Welton April 2, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    Saved this to read it over and over. Thank you❤️!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 2, 2020 at 9:14 pm

      You’re welcome. Send hugs to all those Petrocellis for me, too. since I don’t do Facebook.

  • Reply Sharon Cushing April 3, 2020 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart and your thoughts. I can especially relate to Your son asking “Mom, are you losing it?” This makes me laugh.
    My daughter Julia is a nurse at MGH. She calls every morning and I have to sound perfect on the phone even if I just woke up. I get up now and sing LA..LA…LA..LAAA just to make sure I don’t cough or have a raspy voice. Steve and I must take our temperature and pass a number of health checks. Most of all, offer not a hint of Despair. I love that she loves us.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 3, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      Wonderful, Sharon, to read of your daughter’s love and concern. I try not to cough or sneeze while talking on the phone or zoom with family. Julia’s in a tough but much needed place. of service. May God protect her and all these front line folks…including janitors and those who stock shelves and pack boxes and haul goods. They all deserve hazard pay and medals for service beyond the call of duty.

  • Reply Renie Rich April 3, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Jan,
    My heart resonates with you as I read your words . Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouraging focus. Living alone, without our life partners, can be lonely without the added dimension of these days. And so I sing the hymns Howie and I used to sing together and read from books on the shelves in his office and remember the space is so thin between us. Facetimes with my 20 month old granddaughter, Lily, helps. and Calls from my daughter in Magnolia helps. But the groans are happening here too!!! Blessings and peace to you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 4, 2020 at 10:22 am

      You do know it well, Renie, and I hurt with you. I, too, take comfort from that thin space between here and there, them and us and knowing both places are full of God’s mercy, power, love and grace.

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