Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Easter is a time of renewal when the wind takes the pale pink blossoms from the trees and paints the sidewalks with polka dots. My thoughts of Easter travel back to the days before the crassness of plastic eggs and oversized bunnies to the pale and hopeful sunlight of Glasgow one Sunday morning.

I still remember that Sunday well, the morning sunshine as fragile as the shells of the hardboiled eggs, or the tiny brush in my eight-year-old hands. I painted fine details on the eggs, the ridges of a distant mountain range and the hint of a lake. The colors ran. Still, I was happy with my work.

We were never signed up to religion but neither were we immune to the poignancy of the Easter story. Church services are like Clorox wipes. They gloss over the gore and give us false hope. But it's impossible to gloss over the horrors of the crucifixion. How can you rationalize nails being driven into wrists and the sheer terror of The Cross, the thunderous skies and the roar of the storm? Years later, I stood over a glass panel and saw a few feet of that terrible place. Golgotha, the Hill of the Skull or Calvary. The terror seemed distant and obscure in the hushed atmosphere of that great church.

On the third day after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, and some other Mary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, went to visit Jesus' tomb. They were taken aback by a mini earthquake and the appearance of a dazzling angel who amid "lightning, and his raiment white as snow."

They found a great stone rolled to one side and the tomb was empty. This rather eventful visit to the tomb gave rise to Easter, the idea of renewal and victory over death.

I'm not sure how it equates to us rolling our painted, hard-boiled eggs down the hill in the park, cheering from the slops for a winner as if they were thoroughbred racehorses. However, the feel of renewal in the streets, the breeze with a hint of summer to come, and the numbingly cold, fast rushing river, live with me today.

Today few of us are looking at the cherry blossoms, the bright pink magnolia and the dogwoods that dance in a dazzling pastel carpet above our heads. We are hunkered down and self-isolating and worse. We are broke and prospectless and eying strangers on the street with dread. We have beloved friends who have vanished. We stare at our phones for good news and salvation that never comes.

It seems like an age since we last heard children playing in the park.

I sometimes miss the cozy certainties of my childhood, the easy myths created by adults that we could get up and rise from the dead, that we could cleanse ourselves of the filth, the haunting memories and man's inhumanity to man. I mourn for the old me, for the old days when everything seemed possible.

But for now, we live the dreams of other people and think of the places we might have been.  Like everything else, this too shall pass.

Lost by the Sea

 A tiny tragedy in an ocean of sadness makes barely a ripple. Still, I was taken aback to receive an email from a former wife (the one I nev...