Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
It has been a strange Good Friday, and for that matter Holy Week itself. With the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant interruption of our normal daily routines, it has been hard to keep track of what day it is. This week was very busy at work and on Tuesday I actually asked a co-worker what day it was, and asked the same of Judy on Wednesday. I don’t know about you, but the end of my former routine has left me somewhat untethered.
But I guess that was the way the followers of Jesus felt on that first Good Friday. With the exception of John, and Mary the Mother of Jesus the rest went into hiding, fearing for their lives. Now instead of packed churches and Easter Egg hunts, family get togethers, or other celebrations, we have empty church buildings and most other events are cancelled, severely restricted, or modified due to social distancing and other precautions.
This doesn’t simply effect Christians, but others whose religious gatherings, such as the Jewish Passover which began last night, or Ramadan for Muslims which begins in May. Likewise, non-religious people have also seen their own routines thrown out of kilter.
I don’t really have any words of wisdom to share except to believe that whatever the new normal is, that we will find ways of building new routines, social, or religious as time goes by.
Today, I have tried to stay offline as much as possible, to take a step back, reflect, think and pray. I did this while I was sitting in social isolation while waiting for oil changes and inspections to be done on our cars. Likewise, I paid particular heed to the separation, and the physical changes, and barriers of different types, including masks while picking up a cup of coffee or Coke in convenience stores. I walked down one of our city’s busiest streets only to notice the emptiness of businesses, churches, and traffic.
While walking to get coffee while waiting on the first car, I saw a Methodist church with three wooden crosses planted on it. One had a piece of black cloth attached, blowing in the chilliness of a stiff breeze. I paused, and in that moment I imagined more about the pain, emptiness, separation, and loneliness of that first Good Friday than I think I ever did before.
On my way home I received a call from one of our civilian workers. He believed that he and other workers had been exposed to COVID, due to their proximity to a worker who had tested positive. I was able to refer him to someone who had the influence to get an answer to him. I was happy to help, but I worry for him and others exposed to the virus.
But, for me, those crosses and that black cloth symbolized all that we are all going through today with this pandemic. The deaths, the suffering, the anxieties about the virus, and the devastating ripple effects: people being separated from family and friends at death, friends without jobs, people worrying about making car payments, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and other bills, and wondering if their lives will ever be the same or return somewhat normal. That list can go on and on.
Add to it the separation from family, friends, and our daily routines, all of which to some extent we grieve. For me, the words of T.E. Lawrence ring true today:
“You wonder what I am doing? Well, so do I, in truth. Days seem to dawn, suns to shine, evenings to follow, and then I sleep. What I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, puzzle and bewilder me. Have you ever been a leaf and fallen from your tree in autumn and been really puzzled about it? That’s the feeling.”
Yes, that is the feeling,