A carpet of apple(?) blossoms has covered our back patio, courtesy of the profusion of flowers on a tree over the fence, petals released by the wind on this gorgeous Easter day and floating into backyards all over the block. It is a cliche to speak of rebirth on Easter, and yet there’s no escaping it, wherever you fall on the spectrum of religious belief. This year more than ever all of us crave the possibility of renewal, of something new and perhaps better emerging from the tragedy of the past several months as COVID-19 has spread around the world. We tried to embrace this possibility as blossoms perfumed the air, even as sirens provided a grim soundtrack to this 75 degree spring day.
Once, in the Great Before, we had imagined celebrating Easter with my brother Seth and his family, who would have arrived for their visit yesterday. Instead, it was just the four of us–a treasure hunt with riddles leading to the baskets the Easter bunny had stowed on the roof, followed by a breakfast of homemade scones, biscuits, eggs, sliced pears, and plant-based sausages. We “attended” the Easter service at First Congregational of Ithaca back home via YouTube–a fantastic service and sermon. But as with so much else in life right now, it was simultaneously affirming to celebrate and connect and profoundly sad to think about the ever mounting losses. Regardless of one’s faith, the story of Easter is a powerful one of renewal after a calamity. May the world embrace the possibilities of renewal through cooperation and mutualism in the months and years to come.
The past few years we have enjoyed singing the Handel’s Allelujah Chorus at our Easter Service at FCCI. The annual tradition of the congregation all huddling in the choir area to share music in the impromptu sing is unthinkable this year. But we did find an inspiring version of it sung by the Royal Choral Society of London who normally sing it at the Royal Albert Hall. It has been sung there every year since 1876 with the exception of one year during the blitz of London. This year the public performance was cancelled but members got together to sing it “in isolation.” I put “in isolation” in quotes because music sung together always brings us together. You can see the performance here.