I recently heard a healthy middle-aged man describe the effects of COVID-19 on his life. COVID-19, he said, hasn’t affected him at all; he, his aging parents and his very elderly grandmother have not been ill. He may not be vaccinated.
I found his viewpoint surprising. While no one I know or love has contracted the virus, COVID-19 has most certainly affected our everyday living in multiple ways. Mask wearing, hand hygiene, physical distancing, shopping, working, socializing and (not) travelling have changed the manner in which we live, move and interact with others and the world around.
COVID-19 has also affected the practice of my faith.
Last week, it seemed that there was a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Public health officials in British Columbia gave permission for churches to hold services. So I was very much looking forward to a more normal, albeit scaled down, celebration of Easter.
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It was not to be. The light flickered out with British Columbia’s new three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown. Gathering indoors is out.
This Easter, like Easter 2020, will stand out in memory because it’s different; historic, yet not traditional.
I have many fond Easter memories revolving around tradition. My sisters and I always had new, matching Easter outfits sewn by my mother, new shoes, gloves and fancy bonnets. The new clothes were almost as exciting as waking up to four beautiful Easter baskets lined up on the counter. There were treats and always a small gift – a set of jacks (do those still even exist?), a skipping rope, a jar of bubbles, a matchbox car or a bag of marbles.
The memory of one Easter morning from my childhood still brings a smile to my heart. That particular year, I received a cap gun and cowboy hat with a red whistle. I had desperately wanted a cap gun for weeks; my parents resolutely refused to get me one. I was incredulous when I saw it with the cowboy hat beside my basket.
I couldn’t wait to get outside, blow my whistle and shoot off some caps. However, I had to wait until after mass, which I was sure would be long, tedious, overcrowded and stuffy. Dreaming about my cap gun made the whole affair much more tolerable.
Once home from mass, the boyish cowboy hat replaced the pretty, feminine Easter bonnet and the gun holster replaced the ribboned belt around my waist. I was off, running about with abandon and full of joy.
I’m grateful for the Easter traditions that are so well integrated into my experience – the Good Friday fast, colouring hard-boiled eggs on Easter Saturday, baking hot cross buns and Easter pizza, Easter baskets and egg hunts, extended family dinners, and religious celebrations.
This year, some of these traditions are once again on hold because of COVID-19. Nevertheless, they continue to inform the Easter spirit of hope and joy that I value.
COVID-19 has affected my life in some negative and cumbersome ways.
I could list a bunch of things the pandemic prevents me from doing.
In the spirit of Easter joy, I default to the traditions that shaped me, and the memory of which sustains me.
In the spirit of Easter hope, I look toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
Louise McEwan has degrees in English and theology. She has a background in education and faith formation.
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