The great Christian Feast of Easter is about new life. Specifically, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
In the northern hemisphere Easter very helpfully occurs in the spring. It is not difficult to imagine new life when all around us seemingly dead trees are coming into bud, lambs are skipping in the fields and the sun is warm and bright.
But what about Easter 2021 as we begin to emerge – we hope, out of lockdown 3, is that not too a form of new life – a form of resurrection?
Maybe. Jesus is described as ‘bursting out of the tomb of death’ on that first Easter morning. Our gradual emergence from lockdown is not going to be like this, in fact it can’t be like this. We have to take things slowly and safely. We so do not want to see lockdown 4!
New life for us in this context will be more like the Butterfly emerging from the Chrysalis, a slow laborious process that cannot be hurried, and even when out time must be spent ‘drying out’ and furling and unfurling our wings.
We are going to need time, for some of us, a lot of time, to process all that has happened to us this last year or so. We are going to need time to invest in discerning what kind of normal we want to return to. For many that may be a return to how life was pre- Covid. For many others a time of reflection will be needed to discern if we want to go back to how things were. We have been made to stop and to stop for some considerable time. How have we changed, how has the world changed, do we want to go back? Many can’t go back, those who have lost jobs, careers, loved ones.
The Bishop of Norwich has encouraged churches to return, ‘Slowly, Steadily and Safely’.
This is good advice for society as a whole. I suspect there are going to be two types of some sort of return to ‘normal’. There will be those who will jump straight back into life as if nothing had happened. They will not want to stop and reflect; they will be itching to get back to how things were as soon as possible.
Others will want a gradual return taking time to discern what they have and have not missed. What they want back and what they have learned do with out and perhaps not missed as much as they thought they would.
Only time will tell if one of these ways is better than the other. For me, I prefer the latter, slower option. we cannot get out of this by pretending nothing has happened. We need time to process and deal with the consequences of this pandemic, to learn the lessons that necessitated 3 lockdowns (so far) so that our society comes back a fairer, kinder more compassionate one.
We can only do this together, and if we can achieve this– then new life really will have come again at Easter, we really will have a resurrection once again.