Six weeks ago

Six weeks ago, I cared a lot about Tom Brady. And the Olympic marathon trials. And Antonio Brown.

Six weeks ago, there was a half-used container of antibacterial wipes rattling around the back of my car, like so much trash, that I never once thought to appreciate.

Six weeks ago, my mother was not microwaving her mail.

Six weeks ago, I didn’t clap my hands with delight when I came across a nearly empty roll of paper towels under the sink.

Lent was about to begin, and we were looking forward to its discipline. As in the past, we were giving up sugar. And I was looking forward to the little pep talks that our priest had given every Sunday during Lent for the past few years.

“Now, you may have slipped up and had a hamburger or an ice-cream sandwich on Friday,” he said on the first Sunday of Lent, as encouraging as ever. “But it’s not too late. It can still be the best Lent ever.”

That had become a mantra in our house: The Best Lent Ever!

But then it was replaced by this:

My priest now says Mass in an empty church and posts the video to YouTube. I tuned in on Monday, hoping to get the pep talk I badly needed, but he did not say this could still be the Best Lent Ever, which is the bleakest thing no one said this week.

As a guilty default, I am thinking about trying to make it the Best Holy Week Ever, or to aim even lower, like the Best Maundy Thursday Ever.

Meanwhile, many people have just dispensed with Lent altogether and rewound to Advent, a.k.a, the good old days, back when what Tom Brady and Antonio Brown were doing seemed to matter.

Some people are putting up Christmas lights to inject a little cheer. Radio stations in Denver and Detroit are playing holiday music, but I can’t do that in the company of daffodils.

So I wish you all the Best Holy Week Possible, and we’ll leave it at that.

At first, I was puzzled by the number of flags. More than 9 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19.

But then I stepped back.

Grafton, Massachusetts, April 4, 2020.