The saddening images of mass graves and unceremonious burials of victims of Covid-19 throughout the world has come at a time of the year where Christians reflect upon life, death, and rebirth. At Easter, we are told to mourn the suffering, humiliation and death of Christ, but to be comforted that He will be reborn. This Easter, many societies will be transitioning out of lock-downs shortly after the holiday, searching for a silver-lining and a sense of normalcy in a very different Covid-19 world. And as we do, the symbolism of Easter, which reminds us of our capacity for new beginnings, will be more relevant than it has been for decades.
As a dual-citizen of the US and Greece, our family is Catholic and Orthodox and has been celebrating Easter twice a year for 17 years. Easter has largely been about blending traditions, focusing on the similarities between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and trying to get everything done in time. The “to-do” list each year seems endless and includes professional, cultural, religious and personal obligations. Most things get “done,” but time for spiritual introspection is usually in short order. This Easter stands in stark contrast to the past, as we watch religious ceremonies on TV, shops and malls are closed, flights ground, and social distancing keeps us away from loved ones. The grinding-to-a-halt of our lives around Easter this year has enabled my family to reflect on what we do and how and why we do it.
Not finding pastel-colored egg dye has become a reassessment of “need,” and a discussion about global supply chains and overconsumption. We are also talking in a concrete way about globalization and protectionism, vulnerable populations, the different political systems of the world, and the use of technology and surveillance to combat the spread of coronavirus. I imagine that many families are doing the same as the entire world reconsiders the global order, examines the systems that have been most resilient in handling Covid-19, and considers where we should go from here.
Today my family will be breaking bread around a smaller, humbler table than in the past. The story of Christ and of Easter remains the same, but our interpretation of it and the lessons we have learned will be different. The starkness and solitude of the lock-down period has highlighted our mortality and how the vast numbers of persons living outside of the system we have created may, in the end, determine our fate. It has also revealed the fact that mankind is more capable of charity, solidarity and change than ever imagined. As we celebrate this Easter, a different Easter, my hope is that our experience of Covid-19 will start a new chapter in the age of the anthropocene, one which prioritizes inclusiveness, equality and sustainability, and recognizes that mankind and nature are even more interconnected and dependent upon one another than we thought or were prepared to admit.
Cheryl Novak is a dual citizen of the USA and Greece and her articles have been published by Thomson Reuters, Forbes, and other media sources inside and outside of Greece.