These few of days before Easter Sunday are always full of anticipation. It’s quite active, noisy anticipation I find. The quiet of Lent seems a way behind us already. From Thursday evening on, we move into preparing for Easter. The church services change hugely in feel from the familiar of the Sunday mass I am used to. The Passion of Christ is a dramatic tale of vengeance, torture, death and despair. The services themselves use the dramatic techniques of silence, movement, delivery of words in various voices, light and dark, set changes, the lot. It makes it very easy to get into the story, the sadness, the feeling of a great wrong being done and most of all the sheer inevitability of the death of Christ.
I find it a personally challenging couple of days. I now I am not supposed to complain about the strictures of Lenten fasting, but from Maundy Thursday on, I feel the pain of the fasting. It’s the anticipation – I know on Sunday I can feast, but not until Sunday. I long for wine and chocolate in a way I haven’t all through Lent. I find the services both a familiar framework and a strange and disturbing intrusion on my usual routines.
But tomorrow will come and tomorrow will be joyous. The pinnacle of the Christian faith, when the inevitability of a new dawn, of a new beginning, of being held in love comes to pass. The strictures will end, I will be feasting on mini eggs and prosecco.
You know where this is going, but I am struggling a bit to draw the comparison clearly to the wider feelings I am having about isolation. I have hope that my family and I will come out of this unscathed. In a global sense this too shall pass. But, this Easter, I am scared. I am scared about what this virus is going to do to hundreds of thousands around the world. I know that behind the statistics we are already seeing are whole families grieving. Staying at home is easy for me who has a comfortable and safe home and the resources to get food as I need it. This is far from true for millions of others. Living in a refugee camp, in a country with a fragile health system, in a violent home, in the middle of an armed conflict make the effects of coronavirus devastating.
Then I remember that the disciples do not stop being scared during Easter. In fact, they stay scared and hidden for weeks. So I am taking comfort from the fact that fear is also a part of the Easter story. I have hope and I have faith that that will get me through somehow.
Today is the spring equinox here in UK. At last the long nights are over, the days will be longer than the nights from now on. I am certainly stirring much earlier to the sound of the birds in the garden.
I love the equinoxes, and the solstices for that matter, I like these moments where we acknowledge the effects of the sun and nature on our lives. Especially for this city dweller, whose exposure to nature is more limited.
The start of spring is a time of hope for me most years and today will not be different. Without hope, this period of distance from others will be hard. So my focus this morning is on all the good things.
We’ve been without physical Scouting for all of three days in the UK and yet there is virtual scouting happening already and I know many volunteers are putting plans in place to meet up online next week. Work is moving apace to create activities young people can do at home, but still part of a group. So much creativity and determination to keep communities together.
Choirs seem to be determined to keep going. Gareth Malone is creating a virtual choir, a friend has invited me to Sofa Singers and my husband’s physical choir is working on how to move their weekly rehearsal online.
I have long used Yoga With Adriene at home and now other teachers are moving that way, I have heard of a Tai Chi class being live streamed and have just signed up for a yoga nidra sound bath this weekend.
Online book groups are flourishing apparently and my own Facebook book group has spent the week discussing whatever we’re reading now and recommending books for the time we may have available for reading now.
My son recommended a programme for playing games together (not free), the RSC has made recordings of its productions available online. There are museums you can visit virtually. I am sure there will be so many other things we can do over the coming weeks. For today as we start spring, the creativity and sense of community that is springing up is giving me lots of hope.
The start of March has changed the weather. The annual maternal warnings about March and lambs and lions are being ignored this year (sorry Mum), I am living in the joy of a clear early spring day yesterday. At one point at the weekend we exclaimed about the feeling of warmth in the sun as we found a moment in sun and out of the wind. And yesterday the sun shone and the wind had disappeared.
Our morning run felt much easier without any wind or rain and with less avoidance of puddles and muddy patches needed. The birds were singing and there was a pretty mist rising from the water. I felt like I had had more sunshine on my face in that one run than I had in the whole of February. I relished moments outdoors in my work day and the late afternoon sunshine as I ventured out for various chores.
One sunny spring day fills me with joy, it is tangible proof that for everything there is a season and seasons change. I feel hopeful and that is a good way to tackle the worries of work deadlines, coronavirus, climate change, a poorly dog and an ever-increasing list of tasks that must be tackled in my volunteering life and around the house (yes, my worries range from the trivial to the devastating). All those worries may make me feel grey and gloomy in any one moment of the day, but the light and warmth will return, often the next moment. And I am ignoring the sound of rain on the window as I write this. Spring is here. Honestly.