By Jasmine, SSJD Companion.
Easter does not feel the same this year. I guess a lot of people are feeling the same way. Instead of going to a physical church, we have virtual worship; instead of connecting with people face-to-face, we are trying to keep social distance and use alternatives such as Zoom, Messenger, Whatsapp etc. to connect with one another. Worship has not changed a lot at the convent, but there have been some changes. For example, we still pray 4 times a day together as a community but there is no communion during our mid-day prayer and we didn’t have communion during Holy Week either. Contemplative prayer fills the space where communion would be. Things still work, but it does not feel complete.
My work has shifted from the hospital to the refectory and instead of singing with patients, I sing to the dishes and dance with the mop. This shift has taken me away from what I am familiar with and has me caring for the needs of the community.
I remember the first time my client in an elderly home didn’t want me to play music. They asked instead that I be present to them —I freaked out! I was not quite sure what to do with the silence. My experience of Easter this year and my experience with my client are examples of my search for “normal” as I cling to particular symbols and routines.
On Easter morning, I woke up at 5 am for the salutation and prepared for the Vigil service. I had to sing the Exultant and play the piano. As I carried the Christ candle around the courtyard, it reminded me of the center of the Christian life and how regardless of the changes to worship services, my job or how we celebrate Easter, the Christ candle still shines in the darkness. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
A couple of hours after our vigil, we watched the live Easter service from the Washington State Cathedral and Bishop Michael Curry preached on how this Easter “doesn’t feel like it, smell like it, look like it, but it is still Easter.” This Easter is also linked to the very first Easter, how Mary Magdalene had never expected that she would see the risen Lord. Similarly, in the current situation, we never thought lock-down was possible or that faith activities would be cancelled. True, we do not have communion or guests or a big celebration, but we still have hope from the risen Lord which is the truth and it can never be taken away.
While I was having my Easter dinner and wondering if Easter was real this year, I looked at the daffodils and the tulips in the garden and I knew that this was the right season in God’s hand. I looked around at the sisters and companions in the refectory and I knew that the risen Lord had called us together.
“Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!”