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Updated: Aug 24, 2020

April 12, 2020

Photo credit: Linda F O'Murchu

Easter is my favorite holiday. I’m not a practicing Catholic and I have a number of issues with Catholicism, nor am I religious in any other traditional way. So maybe it’s the pagan in me that leaps to life for this colorful and joyous holiday.

Maybe it’s also the fact that I grew up in the Midwest, where winters were so long and harsh that spring really did call for some kind of celebration. As a kid I always felt like Passover, Easter or any other religious observance in the spring was really all about gratitude and relief because we survived again.

This year, gratitude and relief are abundant. But so are uncertainty, pain and fear. Those who were devout before are surely more so now. Those who don’t believe, or don’t think much about religion day to day, may wish they had something to rest against now. Or maybe the opposite: maybe they see the world’s suffering as something we have to battle on our own.

No matter who or where you are, thoughts of grace and renewal may have reached you today. People who have been feeling isolated may have connected spiritually with others, whether through technology or in the privacy of prayer. I heard no church bells, and maybe for some that was a relief. There are plenty of reasons not to welcome that sound.

I just hope it was a good day for all of us, religious or otherwise. We can all use a lift right now.

Pope Francis gave the traditional Urbi et Orbi (City and World) address in Rome, as Popes do every Easter and Christmas. But this one was different, of course. There were no congregants or celebrants in St. Peter’s Basilica. There was none of the usual exuberance of Easter, the faithful rejoicing in Christ’s rebirth. Instead there was quiet — a very human man, wearing the robes of his office, speaking to the world from inside an empty house of worship.

He spoke directly about the pandemic, extending his compassionate guidance to all of us, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, as well as his respect for what we’re enduring.

Francis is the most humanitarian Pope I’ve known in my lifetime and I love him with all my heart, never mind my conflicts with Catholicism. I’d love him no matter what faith he represented. I've never loved a Pope before.

From the Urbi et Orbi, April 12, 2020:

“For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties ... [in] a pandemic severely testing our whole human family ...

“[Gratitude] to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings ...

[Political leaders should] “work actively for the common good ... to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities ... Because the whole world is suffering, and needs to be united in facing the pandemic.

“Indifference, self-centeredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time ... [Let us recognize ourselves] “as part of a single family and support one another.”

Here at the epicenter, today didn’t feel like Easter at all. Instead of exuberance, it was eerily quiet.

My neighbor decorated her yard "to cheer people up"

But I made a nice Easter dinner. I put Easter “bonnets” on two of our dogs — one of my floral scarves on Rafael, and an outgrown jacket on Agent 99. Then I took pictures of them in our garden, my beloved perennials springing up bright around them. Stephanie and I smiled and laughed more than usual today — much more, I’d say.

But underneath I felt sad, and I’m sure most everyone else did, too. As twilight came on, I sat on my front porch and cried.

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