I sit, poised over my keyboard (to write words, not play music), and then realize that the first ‘Holy Week’ and ‘Easter’ must have felt a bit like what we are all feeling now—bereft, sad, lonely, fearful. Jesus, gathered with those closest to Him—like us in quarantine—commands us to be like Him. (Never easy under the best circumstances, let alone any time of tribulation and suffering.) We know then that the Passion happens—He is arrested, scourged and condemned; He is put on the cross; all his believers abandoning Him out of fear. He is placed in the tomb.
If you read the story of that first Easter morning though, it, too, was a very quiet one. Mary of Magdala—by herself, all alone—discovering the stone rolled away. There were initially only a few people who found that the Lord was gone from the tomb—and they did not yet understand what was happening. Think about it: just a few people there, and quiet—a bit like our Easter celebrations will be at home this year.
But we have the advantage of hindsight to understand what they did not; and we can celebrate what took place two thousand years ago even while in the midst of a Covid 19 pandemic. Although we celebrate more quietly and physically distanced from each other—Easter can still be joyful and thankful for all the blessings that this awful pandemic and the quarantine has shown us that exists in our lives. (See “Just a Note” below.)
Even in the quiet of our homes we can follow the Lord’s Commandments: to serve those less fortunate; to focus on our faith in the cross of Christ and our salvation. We can be in Spiritual Communion with the whole world as we pray, as we sacrifice some personal comfort for the common good, as we inspire others to look with eyes of hope and joy and gratitude at the blessings that are revealed to us and that abound! And today, and always, this is what we are really commanded—and called—to do.
Just a Note: This poem was sent to me by Sr. Gretchen (IHM)—thanks for sharing Sr. Gretchen! Kitty O’Meara is considered the poet laureate of the pandemic—and her untitled prose poem, which begins with the line, “And the people stayed home,” has been shared countless times, on countless backgrounds, with countless fonts, since its first posting. It was most widely popularized by Deepak Chopra. The poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak—God works through all things for good—the faith and hope that good can come out of this collective state of “together, apart.”
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened,
And rested, and exercised,
And made art, and played games,
And learned new ways of being,
And were still. And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger had passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses,
and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
Just a Note #2: My older brother, David, reminded me that today, Holy Thursday April 9—is the 75th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s death. You may know some of Bonhoeffer’s writing: he was an anti-Nazi theologian and pastor during World War II, and began his journey in the church during the rise of the Nazi regime. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was arrested for his involvement in helping Jews flee the country. Still, he continued to teach with the help of guards who smuggled out his writing, until he was transferred to a concentration camp, where he was hanged on April 9, 1945, just one month before Germany surrendered. His life and writings serve as a ‘touchstone’ for all Christians who seek to understand our responsibility in the face of any injustice—and as an encouragement to serve no matter how great the cost.
Here are some of the many famous sayings from him:
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.
We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them….
There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.
May we be enabled to say 'No' to sin and 'Yes' to the sinner.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.
Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.
We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.
The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.