The daffodils and the lilacs work by another timetable than that of either the virus or the religious season. When the temperature gets warm enough, they show up. They take ridiculous risks. They seem so fragile in their sturdy green puncture of the hard soil. Blizzard? So what?
Easter and Passover show up right after the daffodils bloom and the full moon rises. The March “worm moon” is followed by the April “pink moon,” wearing its pastel spring colors, just like the daffodils don their yellow, whether we celebrate them or not.
Even though many fewer will gather in their homes for Passover or their churches for Easter, humans can’t cancel Easter and Passover. Just like you can’t deport a movement that protects immigrants or be mad at a neighbor during a genuine crisis, you can’t cancel a season of hope or a season of persistence. These matters have their own timing. They come when they come and there is nothing a virus can do to stop them. Death, by the way, can’t even stop them, even though there is no need to be that heavy quite yet in this season of novel, widespread, viral, and asynchronous learning.
Easter and Passover work on the clock and off the clock. They work remotely and intimately. They work online and offline. They work on Zoom and they work in person. The next time we sit in pews or at the table together will matter a lot more than the last one did. But that very intimacy is not the concern of Easter or Passover. Neither cares whether we observe or don’t. They are aesthetic, fundamentally, existing for themselves and then, as an afterthought, for us and our dyed eggs and shank bones.
Easter means life after death—and God knows, all the changes of recent months are a kind of death. We lost our coffee shop. We lost our restaurant. We lost our full grocery shelves. Some of us lost our graduation or our school musical or our favorite professor or our soccer or basketball team. Many have lost their anonymous group, although I see that AA is gathering folk online. Some people put up their Christmas lights, which will be less dramatic due to the return of the light in Passover/Easter season. I really wanted March Madness to just repeat last year’s whole season. Nobody bought the idea, but I thought it was darn good. So, what if we already knew who won? Why would that matter more than having something fun to do on an evening, especially since in 2019 you probably didn’t get to see all the games, so busy were you commuting to work and play.
I also suggested to our congregation that we just repeat the 2019 Easter Service.
My musicians were horrified. You can’t just drag up the old, Donna. You have to do something new. Even if the choir can’t stand but six feet apart? Yes, even so. Donna, Easter means new life, and life after death. Don’t go back. Go forward.
Passover has the same impact on people. It is a recital of liberation, a rehearsal for more freedom, a ritual pattern of victory over slavery. Just because you can’t sit around the same large table doesn’t mean that you can’t sit around some table. Can you wear gloves and a mask to Passover? Yes, you can. Alternatively, you might even find it strangely liberating to repeat the service to yourself, at your own pace, with your own plate, even if by then you have to make believe some of the items on it. Surely, though, we will be able to find bitter greens.
There is another seasonal thing you can’t cancel and that is the dandelion. Did you know that you can make wine out of the flowers, salad out of the stems and leaves? I knew a couple once who actually lived on dandelions. New York Times Food critic Melissa Clark also says that we don’t have to worry about onions or their cancellation. If we lop off the ends and put them in water, they will stay quite fresh for a long time. There are some things that just don’t understand that things are in serious trouble, which they are.
They include daffodils, dandelions, greens, Easter and Passover, and you.
Donna Schaper was born in Kingston New York in 1947 when people wrote letters and went ice skating and had three channels. She is now Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church, where the Good Work Institute had its first meetings. She grows a great tomato at her place upstate and walks the Appalachian trail for fun.