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The Easter Grinch

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Op-ed, The Way

By Gloria Gaither

“What day is this?” my friend asked as she popped in to drop off some supplies and mail. I thought for a minute. “Wednesday, I think…does it matter?”

Since we have all been sheltering in place and social distancing due to closures and cancellations with no schedule to section off our day, no appointments to keep, no meetings to attend, the days are seeming to run together. Or maybe I should say the days have a new rhythm and, certainly, a new set of priorities.

In the mail were eight spring catalogs of new party dresses, sandals, bathing suits, and jewelry. There were also flyers about vacation spots and resort deals. My cell phone kept dinging with notifications of reduced rates on airline tickets and rental cars. “Does it matter?” I thought as I shuffled through the mail. I found myself looking for actual letters and birthday cards for Bill. The tone for text-waiting from our kids, relatives, and friends checking on us and sending funny posts to make us laugh, forwards of meaningful reads, and pictures of the grandkids took precedence over everything else.

One friend sent a recommendation of a great must-read book; another sent a link to good new song he thought I’d enjoy. Somehow in these weeks of staying home for the common good a new set of priorities have moved into the place of “important” meetings, check-up appointments, and spring shopping sales.

Gloria Gaither

Our little daughter-in-law (who is a great organizer) sent the schedule she made out for their family.

One young mom posted a comment from her little child whose school and activities had been cancelled or taken online: “I LIKE CORONAVIRUS.” The mom went on to say that their family had gotten closer since the quarantine had made homeschooling a family project, and they’d actually been cooking and enjoying meals together around the family table.

Some of the phone conversations I’ve received were discussions about how neighborhoods had gotten creative about helping each other, like a sharing gazebo of DVDs, puzzles, games, great books for adults and children, and extra packets of garden seeds. The outpost eventually turned into a place to leave extra canned goods, cake mixes, and basic supplies for those who had run out. The teachers in one of our schools here organized a drive-by through the neighborhoods where most of their young students live, because they were missing the kids so. The kids stood on the sidewalks outside their houses with love notes to their teachers written on posters with big magic markers.

So, as serious as this pandemic is, and as important as it is that we obey the health officials to protect each other, wouldn’t it be great if relationships could deepen? What if neighbors faithfully checked on each other and shared what they have on hand? What if actual board games and puzzles came out of the craft closet and became a lot more fun than video games because we are playing with actual people with actual laughter and actual conversations?

I began thinking about the Grinch who stole Christmas, and about the coronavirus, and about what it can steal and what it can’t. And I’m wondering, if it even took our old schedules and our meetings and our frantic lives and even our jobs and our I-Step scores and our promotions, might it bring some new fresh sprouts of creativity and life?

Bill and I are in the “most vulnerable” age group for being endangered by this virus. We are staying home like we’ve been told to do. We read and talk about the good books that some of our friends have recommended, as well as those we promised ourselves to read “someday.” We cook and have long conversations with friends through texts, e-mails, and the phone—yes, that invention through which we can actually hear the tone and inflection of real voices (no emojis needed).

Because of some of the closures and changes, our daughter is home from New York, our son-in-law from the university (he now teaches and grades online), and our grandson from the military academy where he is a high school senior. He will finish the year online as well, and maybe even graduate virtually. They all self-quarantined for the required days, before we finally got together for dinner the first time. It was an especially sweet evening.

One of our university graduate grandsons is using the time to compose music; both of our daughters and our son are working on writing and recording projects at home. I am writing this blog to share with you. Bill selected from our archives a playlist of thirty-five songs of hope and encouragement for you to listen to alone or with your family. Little Mia is painting.

My daffodils are starting to bloom, even though it snowed again. The white swan are nesting on the peninsula, and the wrens are building a nest in the bark bird house by the back door. When I went out for the newspaper this morning, they were singing their little heads off.

Oh, I know for sure our sweet Lord was crucified. I know the earth shuddered so hard at this terrible cosmic injustice that the ground split in two and the veil that kept regular people like me from the fearsome presence of the Almighty tore right down the middle. I know he was Roman-sealed in a tomb, hollowed out of the hardest stone. But the enemy couldn’t steal Easter. No, it came just the same. And whether we live or die, death cannot stop the surge of the eternal from starting to move in our veins, and stone or no, virus or no, we will live again! We can know life eternal, now. It is these lasting things we must value now. It is recognizing the essential from the non-essentials now and in embracing the eternal, releasing the joy, now! Does it matter? Yes! This is what matters, now.

Gloria Gaither is an avid writer and lyricist and so much more, known, along with her husband Bill, across the Church of God and beyond for her songwriting contributions to Christendom. Article originally published at www.lovesongtomylife.com/blog/the-easter-grinch. Republished by permission.

Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.

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