During the season of Lent my thoughts naturally pivot toward Christ’s resurrection. There are two Easter Sundays that have their own special spot for me. One coincides with the death of my husband and the latter is yet to occur.
It was the Saturday before Easter Sunday in 1994 and I had gone early to the ICU section of our local hospital to visit my husband, Claude. I remember him telling me he’d had two young men in his room during the night and they seemed to be measuring something or someone. I smiled thinking at the time he was perhaps hallucinating. His attending doctor arrived and said my husband was doing so good they were initiating the process to take him out of ICU and onto the ward with other heart patients.
Delighted with the doctor’s recommendation I decided to return home, go to the post office to get our mail and to walk our dog. Blacky missed his walk that Saturday. I also missed attending, with two of my cohorts, an egg hunt for disadvantaged children. When I returned home from getting the mail the phone was ringing. It was the hospital. Claude had died!
For the seven years between Claude’s first heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest we had lived under a cloud of uncertainty. Upon my preacher husband’s request, I‘d typed his obituary and we got to the place during our prayer sessions to where we used the open-close palm technique, sans words. We turned the palm of our hands upward saying, “Father, you know what is best. We don’t.” Then we would turn our palms downward to declare, “Lord, we trust you. Please take over.”
All day on that Saturday before Easter, 1994 family and friends began gathering at our home with food offerings, special thoughts and hugs. There was one thing clear to me: I would join with the faithful the following Easter morning to confirm that Christ had indeed risen from the dead and that my husband was now with Jesus. Sharing this with those we had served with for over 17+ years seemed the right thing for me to do.
In all my 89 years I can’t remember a time when I haven’t attended church on Easter Sunday. For the last 12 years I’ve played the role of Easter Bunny for lots and lots of children on the Saturday preceding Easter. Hundreds of bunny rabbit doting parents would wait in line to take a picture of their child with the Easter Bunny. Alas! There was no Easter bunny this year at our annual Signal Mountain Community Egg Roll, as it was cancelled.
Today I sit isolated in my apartment with my meals delivered to my door, washing my hands what seems like a zillion times to the tune of Happy Birthday, staying 6 feet apart from all the other residents and wearing a face mask when I go walking on our campus or come in contact with other residents. A local grocery fills our food orders twice a week and a local pharmacy delivers our meds. Thank God for Pruett’s Signal Mountain Market!
This will be the fifth consecutive Sunday my church family, following national & state guidelines, has self-isolated ourselves from corporate worship. Our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services were also broadcast online. So, what will it be like to observe Easter on Facebook or YouTube Live Stream?
I’ll have bread and juice ready to participate in the Lord’s supper on Thursday and on Friday. Perhaps I’ll have on hand a hammer and nail to remind me of our practice of personally driving a nail into our conceptual cross. If I close my eyes I can hear the clanging of hammered nails.
On Sunday morning I’ll have my bell ready to ring during the singing of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” My bell’s sounds will join with the others who are watching and responding when we get to the Alleluias.
The format will be different–very different–but the message remains the same and even vibrates with deeper meaning during this pandemic that has shaken the world.