In some ways, Easter 2020 was no different than prior Easters. The night beforehand I thumbed through the dresses in my closet and chose the one I most wanted to wear in celebration of Jesus rising from the dead. Like most years, the dress I settled on was brand new, a bright, Easter-egg color, and made of lightweight spring fabric, this one with three-quarter length sleeves and the skirt cut just above the knee. Like most years, the dress was perfect for celebrating the hope of Easter...and completely impractical for the expected weather conditions.
On Easter morning, once I took pictures of the kids devouring their candy from the Easter Bunny prior to dawn (well, I suppose Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark out!), I went back to bed for awhile. When I got up to start the day a second time, I prepared myself for it by showering and actually blow-drying my hair before donning my choice dress and adding decorative earrings. I came downstairs excited to start the day...except that my earrings reminded my daughter that we can’t fulfill her wish to get her ears pierced during this pandemic.
The other bummer was that I felt chilled all day.
I returned to my room for socks...and then slippers...and then a faux-fur vest...and when I told my husband that I was determined to wear my dress even though I was freezing, he mused,
“Oh April, when there’s no greater gap between the weather we want and what it’s actually like outside.”
Yes, I thought. It’s how I feel about so much right now. About how I want to have hope...and about how I can’t see an end to our altered reality.
My husband recently described our daily lives like a sine wave. Life is bound to have peaks and valleys. Only, he says, our waves are getting closer together. We try to be grateful for the little things -- like the grocery store restocking Honey Nut Cheerios -- and I am trying not to despair about the hard things -- like my kids mutinying against the homeschooling curriculum I prepared for them.
Thanks. (For that packet of hand-sanitizing wipes I found shoved in the back of the bathroom drawer where I stashed them last summer after receiving them as part of a welcome package during our church’s summer family getaway.)
“A lot of us religious types go around saying thank you to God when we find a good parking space, or locate the house keys or the wandering phone, or finally get a good night’s sleep. And while that may be annoying to the people around us, it’s important because if we are lucky, gratitude becomes a habit.” (p. 48-9)
Wow. (Upon returning from an unexpectedly long hike with the kids during which I carried a backpack on my front, a five-year-old on my back and a plastic bag of human poop in my hand, I received a card in the mail from my godmother. The printed message read: “Let’s stick together...because sometimes life gets a little prickly!” The illustrations? A bunch of cactii labeled with the names of my family members. In her personal message, she wrote that she was praying for “patience, creativity, and quality sleep...and that [I] can see [this time] as an opportunity, not an obligation.”)
“You mindlessly go into a 7-Eleven to buy a large Hershey’s bar with almonds, to shovel in, to go into a trance, to mood-alter, but you remember the first prayer, Help, because you don’t want the shame or the bloat. And out of nowhere in the store, a memory floats into your head of how much, as a child, you loved blackberries, from the brambles at the McKegneys’. So you do the wildest, craziest thing: you change your mind, walk across the street to the health food store, and buy a basket of blackberries, because the answer to your prayer is to remember that you’re not hungry for food. You’re hungry for peace of mind, for a memory. You’re not hungry for cocoa butter. You’re hungry for safety, for a moment when the net of life holds and there is an occasional sense of the world’s benevolent order.
“So you eat one berry slowly, savoring the sweetness and slight resistance, and after sucking the purple juice off your fingers you say: Wow. That tasted like a very hot summer afternoon when I was about seven and walked barefoot down the dirt road to pick them off the wild blackberry bushes out by the goats, Pedro and Easter, in the McKegneys’ field. Wow. The blackberries tasted like sweet purple nectar, not dusty exactly, but dusted just right, not quite leafy but still alive, a little bitter around the seed, juicy and warm with sunshine.” (p. 87-8)
Oh pandemic, when there’s no greater gap between the daily routine we want and what we’re actually allowed to do.
And yet, there have been wow moments. Wow. That’s striking, isn’t it? That there have been wow moments even during these times?
God, I’ll keep praying. Help. Thanks. Wow. In this season too.
Here you will find a catalog of my writing and reflections.