This morning, I woke up in my bed at home, just like I should have, just like I have on this day for the past 18 years of my life. Today is Easter Sunday. But this Easter, things are different.
Upon waking up, I had no reason to get out of bed. There was no Sunrise Service at church, no family gatherings to attend, no outfit to change into for Easter morning pictures. Instead, I lay in bed, playing a game on my phone.
In fact, today hardly even felt like a Sunday, let alone Easter Sunday. Since the stay-at-home order has been issued, and subsequently extended, the days have slowly blurred together into an endless cycle of the same monotony. The only thing to differentiate a Sunday from the rest of the week is that my family sits in our living room together for an hour, each person distracted by something, while a church service streams on the television in the background.
This year, Easter is not Easter at all. Everything that gives the holiday its importance is nonexistent in our current times.
Don’t get me wrong —there has been and will always be the scriptural significance of the Easter holidays. From Good Friday, when Jesus was killed on the cross at Golgotha, to Easter morning, when the tomb was found empty, there are loads of historical moments among these holidays.
That being said, Easter is simply not Easter to me without the traditions and experiences attached.
Every Easter, my family has a routine, as many families across the nation do. Our routine goes like this: First, my brothers and I wake up early to check our Easter baskets and see what the Easter Bunny brought us this year. Then, we change into our Easter outfits for a picture before attending an early church service. Lastly, we visit with our extended family.
On big holidays, whether it is Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas, my family always has days packed with activities. We attend family gatherings hosted by my grandparents on both sides of the family. We could spend hours at each place, eating delicious foods, playing silly games and reminiscing on fond memories. By the end of it all, we return home, stuffed and exhausted.
Each year, those gatherings become more dire as our years that we get to spend with my grandparents and their families en masse are dwindling. This is especially true for me, now that I am around much less while away at college. Despite this, there were no family gatherings to attend on Easter this year. In contrast with all the years I can remember, I did not return home late in the evening exhausted from the long day. Instead, I was up late, contemplating why this year’s holiday felt inauthentic.
Not only were there no family gatherings this year, but there was not even a church service to attend. While some could argue that church continues on from the comfort of our homes, no streamed church service could match the fellowship and worship encountered in a sanctuary.
The world that we have all lived in for the past month is different than anything I’ve ever experienced before. The change is not a positive one either, but it is necessary. In today’s case, for me, that means sacrificing the Easter holiday.
We can take away important lessons from COVID-19. Frankly, I lost sight of it within the stress and pressure of our new world, and I had to be reminded by my grandmother, whom I had texted to wish a ‘Happy Easter.’ After telling me that she missed getting to see me this Easter, she added, “But I know that this is a teachable moment. We will appreciate our time together more when this is over, that’s for sure!”
She’s right. COVID-19 has been a teachable moment. While COVID-19 may have taken away my Easter in 2020 — or at least the experiences that I associate with it — the one thing it cannot take away is that Jesus is our risen savior. That is why we enjoy the Easter holiday in the first place. All the traditions and celebrations are just human creations.
Easter might not have been the same this year as what I’m used to, but the experience has led me to be reminded that I may be too focused on worldly things. Maybe the pandemic has been a positive simply for the fact that it’s a reminder that all of these things are temporary and, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant. Jesus has control over the pandemic that we are all going through together, and when all this is over, we can learn from it.
When this is all over, we can enjoy the times and traditions we have with our loved ones without taking advantage of those moments.