Friday, April 10, 2020
Good Friday in a Pandemic
The day on our Christian calendar where we fully acknowledge death and the separation it brings. Before Joe died, it was nothing more to me than a speed bump on the way to Easter. Once 2012 rolled around, though, this day began to carry much more weight as I felt the sting of death in unique ways with each passing moment that year.
How much more it stings now for those mourning in the midst of a pandemic as waves of grief are flowing deep and wide around the world.
Good Friday is the world as it is - with all its pain and brokenness, anxiety and fear. Over the years, I have come to appreciate this day not as a speed bump, but as one of the truest reflections of our reality.
After all, it is in this "world as it is" that we all live. We see it around us starkly now, as family members grieve in isolation without the physical gestures that often get us through those initial moments of shock and despair. We see it in the frontline workers who are confronting an unseen, but deadly virus every day. We see it in the desperation of people whose place in our destructive economy is laid bare in new and frightening ways.
I recognize that in my own life over these past few weeks I have gotten through day to day by finding ways to compartmentalize all of the pain, only allowing it out from time to time in small doses. I have made it a point each day to instead list 10 things for which I am thankful. I have purposefully sought out moments of joy and ways to change up routine within our home.
But today, I observed Good Friday by allowing myself to connect with it. I prayed through the stash of Christmas cards I keep by the side of my bed. As I touched each card and looked at the faces and handwriting of friends, family members, and co-workers, it drew me to the flood of pain that so many of them are working through right now. I began to feel the heartache of living in this world as it is right now.
And then I turned to writing. I have never written so many sympathy cards in one sitting and the truth is that it shook me. We aren't even through this yet and there are so many people who are enduring deep levels of pain and are doing it in isolation.
I know that I can't fix the grief for my friends or family now any more than they could do that for me 9 years ago. In fact, my favorite card that I dropped in the mail today says on the front "Please let me be the first to punch the next person who tells you everything happens for a reason." (Thank you, Emily McDowell cards.) This is not a time for pithy expressions. It is a time for us to be real with each other and acknowledge that, even though this is our reality, we can show up for each other in the midst of it.
Good Friday is about the world as it is.
Yes, ultimately we can change that. It can happen through building community. Through organizing. Through showing up for one another. Through the model of hope that comes on Easter morning.
But let's not rush through today to that. Let's not pretend as if this doesn't hurt.
Let's allow our friends, our family, our loved ones time to grieve.
Let's allow it to be Good Friday. Easter will come. It's just not here yet.