Ukrainian churches are shelters
for the traumatized during Lent 2022.
As neighborhoods are bombed
to rubble, clergy welcome
households to precarious safety,
saviors fulfilling more than liturgical roles.

Fasting during the 40-day period
is thrust upon the faithful
by invading forces,
no longer a voluntary act
except when people
pass their own food
to hungry children.

Customary Lenten reflections
on Satan’s temptation of Jesus
seem irrelevant to those
who choose to flee
from a modern-day Devil
toward a new Jerusalem

Parents suffer the cries
of their bewildered,
frightened families
as embedded thorns
they cannot loosen.

People carry
an onerous burden
heavy as a wooden beam
as they migrate
from certain death

Pilgrims travel west
toward sundowns and darkness
hoping for but not expecting
clearing skies to shine
the light of resurrection

About the Poem

As I began my Lenten practice this year, I became curious about when/how Lent is observed in Ukraine historically and today. I wrote the poem after doing research on the role of churches during this Lent, and then decided to use an extended metaphor of Jesus’ last week applied to the refugee situation.

About the Author

Joanne Kennedy Frazer is a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations at state, diocesan and national levels. Her work has appeared in several Old Mountain Press anthologies, Poetic Portions anthology, Soul-lit Spiritual Poetry, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Panoply Literary Zine, Snapdragon Journal, Whirlwind Magazine, Kakalak, Red Clay Review, Gyroscope Review, Persimmon Tree, New Verse News, Topical Poetry, Bottle Rockets, the cherita, Five poems were turned into a song cycle, Resistance, by composer Steven Luksan, and performed in Seattle and Durham. Her chapbook, Being Kin was published in 2019. She lives in Durham, NC.

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