Coronavirus and Easter: Is it still the same?

Growing up, Easter was one of those holidays that I looked forward to. Every year, a church, a playground, or even Villanova University, would host an Easter Egg Hunt open to the public, something I can guarantee almost every child looks forward to. The promise of candy and searching through flowers and fresh grass on a beautiful spring day was always something that made Easter special. Not to mention the stunning Easter Sunday services, the happy, uplifting hymns, and the fun Easter clothes. Easter has always been a holiday that was especially joyful. It was a breath of fresh air (both literally and metaphorically), after emerging from the dark Lenten season and the end of winter. It signified not only the rebirth of Jesus but also the rebirth of nature, as all the flowers, plants, animals and insects rebounded after a cold winter. But this year will be different.

This year, with the sudden appearance of almost apocalyptic-like changes that have occurred over the past two months, it seems that our traditional Easter will be canceled. There will be no large family gatherings, no beautiful church sermon and music, and certainly no public Easter Egg Hunts. In this new age of social distancing, the best we can hope for is a FaceTime call or a livestream to tune into. It certainly sounds depressing, and it is far from the Easter that I had pictured just a few weeks ago. But just because it is different does not mean that the message has changed.

After being trapped inside my house for nearly a month, I’ve begun to find a new appreciation for the little things. When a long walk with my mother outside is the only time I get to leave the house, that walk seems much more precious than it did before. The slow temperature changes and the little hints that spring is coming have become much more obvious to me, and the flowers that my neighbor so carefully prunes have never looked more beautiful. Short conversations with my friends, or now daily calls with my aunt and grandmother have become a new normal that I look forward to. And even though there are many things this year should have held but now won’t, I know that once everything returns to normal again, I’ll appreciate them in a way that I never had before. And maybe that is exactly the way that Christ’s followers felt when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning.

Because of the coronavirus, we all are getting our own kind of rebirth. Maybe now, more than ever, we will be able to understand the joy and relief that Mary Magdalene and the disciples felt when they realized that the man they had relied on, but who had been so suddenly stolen from them, was back. Just like those who hailed Jesus as the Messiah, and all those who realized his divinity upon his resurrection, we might now be able to have a greater appreciation for the little miracles in our own lives. I know this Easter will be a little bit different from years past. But I also know that Easter promises spring, and that spring promises rebirth, renewal and recovery. So if Jesus can come back from the dead, we can certainly come back from the coronavirus. And maybe we will bring a new appreciation for life with us.