Churches are closed but they can’t lock down our hope this Easter

Apr 11, 2020 by

by Bel Mooney, Mailonline:

This is the strangest Easter of my adult life.

Nothing is as it should be. Around the country, countless families like my own are sad because we are necessarily deprived of much that makes this time of year special — and (for a Christian) sacred.

[…]  It is so tempting to become angry in our confinement, to denounce Spring’s exuberance, to ask what’s the use? But let’s not give in to such feelings this Eastertide.

That moon — sometimes called the Paschal Moon, Paschal meaning ‘Passover’ in Greek — was beautiful, whether or not I or anybody else saw it. The glories of Spring are unlocked whether or not we are in the mood to enjoy them.

But these things do offer comfort — if you let them. Soldiers in the hell of the trenches in World War I noticed the poppies blooming and listened to birdsong when the guns fell silent.

[…]  In parts of Europe, pagans celebrated the goddess Eostre, whose symbol was a hare (Easter bunny anyone?), with fires and bread. Perhaps that was the reason that early Christians chose to stage their own holy festival of life triumphing over death — the resurrection — at this time. In 1990.

I was in Romania at Easter, just three months after the revolution that overthrew the tyrant Ceausescu, and I discovered their tradition of painting real eggs. On Easter Sunday you’d click eggs with somebody else, as one said, ‘Christ is risen’ and the other replied ‘He is risen indeed’.

Communism couldn’t kill that. No political changes or outrages, indeed no hardships, can eradicate the human need to celebrate. There are Spring festivals in Thailand, India and China, too. And of course, Passover or Pesach is a major Jewish holiday with special food and shared joy: ‘Chag sameach!’ But I hear you asking: what about this year?

What can we do, what can we feel — when an invisible enemy is stalking the whole world, imprisoning all people in fear as well as isolation, devastating lives and economies and making deprivation so much worse? When this vile virus has taken so much from us and so many things that bring joy and turned them into suffering and sadness . . . how can we think of anything else?

It isn’t easy and glib good cheer can be annoying. I am reminded of a story told by the late great neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. D uring World War II he spent three years in Auschwitz and other death camps, surviving to be a moral inspiration to millions.

When his six-year- old daughter asked why he spoke of the ‘good’ Lord, Frankl replied: ‘Some weeks ago you were suffering from measles and the good Lord sent you full recovery.’ The girl frowned. ‘Daddy, don’t forget — in the first place he sent me the measles.’

As a Christian I have to seek meaning — yes, even within misery. I firmly believe that the world, seen and unseen, is full of mysteries and miracles. My response to the news that Boris Johnson had been taken to intensive care was to rise at dawn, light a candle and say prayers for his recovery.

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