Poem: Easter in the Plague Year

church

Easter in the Plague Year

You enter the sanctuary.
It is empty. Quiet.

Sunlight in the windows.
Bright. Colorful. Reflective
on the deep oak beadboard
and the birch seats. Reflective
on the sprig of flowers that sit on the altar.

It is a place built for worship.
Light and space. Arches lead your eyes upward.
The windows are full of symbols
that glow even on a dim day.

There is a pipe organ in the corner.
Rank after rank of decorated pipes
await their opportunity to sing.

As do we.

Easter approaches.
The standing joke is that on Easter,
everyone goes to church.
The pews, normally so sparsely populated,
fill. People know, even when they live
as if they don’t, as if it does not matter,
they know there is power in the remembrance
of sacrifice and hope.

But not this year. No.
This year the pews will be empty.
The organ will not sing,
and our souls will seek remembrance,
seek hope, seek the power of sacrifice
in their own lives,
or perhaps in a collective of small screens
and tinny speakers.

And the sanctuary sits, silent. empty as Christ’s tomb,
awaiting a ressurection without pretense.

In time, people will return.
That is the nature of things.
All that is terrible, ends.
All that is hopeful returns.
There will be singing, together.
There will be prayer, together.
The walls will ring with laughter and the return of joy
together.

But not now. Not yet.
We will have to find Easter within this season,
without props. Without anything
but hearts and memory and a hunger to be saved
when we can no longer save ourselves.

About this poem

To my non-Christian friends, I ask your forbearance. Easter is the centerpiece of my Christian faith, and it is normally a time of gathering together. But not in this season of quarantine.

I miss church. I miss the power of gathering together. I miss how that gathering together builds relationships, not just with God, but with each other. But it is not all bad, perhaps. This time of separation can also be a time of looking inward, of rediscovering God in us.

Yeah, I get pensive when I am left alone.

The picture is of the sanctuary at Rupert Methodist Church, where I am privileged to serve.

Be well.

Tom

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