I grew up about as non-liturgical as possible. (Think Southern Baptist in Oklahoma.)
So for a number of years, I thought of Easter as a single day.
That's not to say the day wasn't special. My sister and I got new dresses and shoes. People we didn’t see any other time showed up for worship. There were extra flowers, and one of the women in the choir sang a special solo.
But in many ways, Easter was a “one and done” for me during those years. There was no Eastertide or season of Easter.
I can’t put an exact date on when that began to change. Maybe it was during the first time I lived in the Washington, D.C., area and was part of a more liturgical congregation. Maybe it was while I was in divinity school and began thinking about preaching throughout the church year.
What I do know is that I’ve come to value Easter as a season rather than a single day. And perhaps I’ve never cherished that season more than this year as we’re facing such a challenging and uncertain time.
As we entered the Easter season, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve experienced during this pandemic. Things that remind me of the possibility of new life and new beginnings—often in surprising ways and at unexpected times. Things that offer hope and joy, in large part, because of the connections they’ve provided with other people.
I’ve come to think of these things as containing echoes of Easter. Echoes I hope to help carry forward in the months ahead.
One of those echoes grew out of something that began on a whim.
A friend has been working on a multi-year project that’s been anything but smooth. The project’s ground rules have changed without notice, and best efforts have hit one stone wall after another.
My friend received a deadline for submitting a revision of her project. She would need to meet that deadline if she hopes to move forward. The deadline coincided with Easter. Not ideal timing for my friend, who happens to be a pastor.
Even before the need to shelter at home was announced, I struggled to identify a way to help my friend. I wanted to be supportive without being intrusive or requiring her to respond.
What I came up with wasn’t profound or earth-shattering. To be honest, it was simple and a bit silly. It, however, was doable.
Each morning for about four weeks I sent my friend an e-mail that contained a cartoon or a meme or some artwork. Some were inspirational, and others were goofy. They reassured her she could do this, encouraged her not to give up, and reminded her that others believe in her.
It wasn’t these daily e-mails that enabled my friend to meet her deadline. What they did do was let her know someone cared and was cheering for her. They also helped me be mindful about my friend on a daily basis, and they became a source of joy for me at a time when joy seemed in short supply.
You can do it.
During this Eastertide and the months that will follow, it’s a message that many of us need to hear. It’s also one we can share with others. And each time that message is shared or received, maybe, just maybe, it will carry an echo of Easter.