We had a beautiful sunrise, this Easter Sunday. I tarried a bit longer with my first before-morning-chores cup of coffee just to give this first gift of the morning its due. I could have tarried longer, the sheep wouldn’t have much minded waiting for their pasture time. On other Easters, I reflected, there would have been no time to tarry: getting the children ready for church, setting the table for Easter company, trying to fit in sous chef duties, running the vacuum over wherever the dog last chose to sleep…to tarry was verboten. This is a very different Easter, though – no children, no company, no church. This is our COVID19 Easter.
I mind most that the children are not home, even though they have chosen wisely to remain in self isolation in their own Brooklyn apartments. The irony is that I came to know and live the Easter season because of the children. We were an atheistic family when I was growing up, my father was especially anti-religion, organized or otherwise, and the rest of us fell into line. I married a man of faith, however, and we agreed to raise our children in the Presbyterian Church. I did not know the first thing about Presbyterianism and there was much in Christianity that I struggled to understand, let alone accept. But, I thought it important that the children have the structure and ritual of a religion while growing up. Rationalism and unbelief offer small comfort in times of greatest need, I had come to learn in the course of my own life.
And so I did my best to get our kids to church, and Sunday school. All three children had their father’s gift for music, and all three sang in the children’s choirs as they grew up, so there was the driving to and from that, too. Our church was blessed to have a rigorous and inspiring program, and they learned to recognize and love the beauty of sacred music, as did I. I believe that I came closest to belief in those moments of hearing such music. Faith was still out of my reach, but the power of story through music spoke to me, comforted me. And, it was especially meaningful to look out at the choir and see my family, all contributing their voices to the story telling.
This Easter, I will not hear their voices singing out. There are no Easter baskets to prepare or egg hunts to organize. We will be sitting to dinner just the two of us, and the house looks tidy enough as it is – no need to vacuum, dust, set the best dishes on the table, or fuss over which flowers from the garden to cut for our centerpiece. But, I am filled with wonderful memories of Easters past nevertheless, and I can still hear the voices of my children exclaiming over finding chocolate eggs and jelly beans hidden in unusual places all over the house. And, if I listen closely, I can hear them singing…