There is supposed to be a poem here.
But nothing is as it’s supposed to be these days. Everything feels upended.
It’s hard to keep track of days, much less announcements and official decrees.
There is news everywhere, and none of it good.
It all feels so unfair.
There are supposed to be birthday parties, get togethers, graduations, vacations.
There were supposed to be potlucks and trivia nights and rallies and conferences.
There was supposed to be an Easter.
Instead of the Easter we were supposed to have, we now have new supposed-tos.
You are supposed to stay at home
but some of us don’t have the privilege of social distancing,
and some of us will pay for that privilege with our livelihoods.
You are supposed to be grateful to have family
but some of us are separated from family, some of us cannot go home to family,
some of us are not safe with our families, some of us live alone.
You are supposed to wash your hands
but some of us don’t have access to clean water for drinking, much less bathing.
You are supposed to wear a mask
but for some of us, wearing a mask feels as dangerous as being without one.
You are supposed to be thankful and live in the present moment
but there is so much to be angry about and so much to fear for the future.
Some of us have always known that we were disposable, that the environment was disposable, that too many were willing to sacrifice lives to the dark god of “perpetual economic growth.”
For some of us, this is a new reality we are finally seeing, and it is not a welcome sight.
The world we know is dying. This is not really news.
But the inescapable future we were warned about is here, in this moment. And we cannot even be together to face the end.
What will rise from the flames? What will be birthed?
When Jesus died, did he have a choice as to how he came back?
Would the apostles’ choices have been different if Jesus hadn’t been resurrected in three days?
What if it was a month?
What if it was more?
What if more and more and more people were facing an end (their life, their love, their livelihood) as the apostles waited?
How long will faith hold out?
Is there an expiration date on hope?
We are told we have a Savior who understands.
Someone who flipped tables
And drove out moneychangers with a whip
And was not tempted by sex or flesh or indolence
But starvation, desperation, dominion.
A high priest who was pierced and wounded.
One who hungered,
And fed others,
And knew the price of a good wine.
A priest who was Brown, single, poor, unemployed, and from the wrong town
Who was murdered by state sanctioned violence
Who was betrayed by someone he trusted
And let down by those he called friend.
One who didn’t want the end he had
(But remembered his mother, even on the cross)
And asked why God had forsaken him.
A Savior who brought both revelation and revolution.
Who knew birth and death and rebirth and life,
Who told us to Love One Another as we Love God.
We will praise God for every empty church this Easter, empty as the tomb. Amen.
We will remember that “Jesus’ purpose on earth was to overturn systems of oppression… And the road to agitate, to disrupt, to challenge systemic oppression is long, difficult, and, at times, lonely.” Amen.
We will “practice committing to memory the image of God (imago dei) of all people, especially those pushed towards the margins of society — the ones that colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism attempt to erase and to wipe out of existence and everyday memory.” Amen.
We will “be encouraged to join with those who suffer under the weight of evil in the world so that we all can fight for a world where all people can freely do what is right and just.” Amen.
We will “work to dismantle systems that place hierarchical value on life that God deemed as good, beautiful, holy.” Amen.
We will “gather to celebrate the table to which we have all been invited. It is a table where death becomes life, where darkness becomes light, where heartache becomes hope. At this table, to be redeemed is to be queer. This table was turned upside down and inside out for you. It is your table. And all, all, all are welcome.” Amen.
We will remember that “queerness, gender-nonconforming kin, non-nuclear families, and all the single people actually belong [and that] celibate, asexual, or aromantic people [can] call friendship with Christ better than a walk down the aisle.” Amen.
We will honor and recognize women in the way God has always seen them. We will remember that it was women who came first to find the empty tomb. Amen.
We will remind ourselves that “God’s love, and the love of my chosen family, is not dependent on whether or not [we are] an investment with a good return.” We will tell ourselves that equating our value with our production is a lie, “a lie [we’ve] learned from our social and economic systems that oppress, exploit, and kill.” Amen.
We will ask for God to “have mercy on us… for we have forgotten your people.” Amen.
We will not forget that, though “[t]he pandemic, like climate catastrophe, may be an apocalypse of the white, Western world… the rest of us have died many deaths before — the deaths of genocide, proxy wars, disease, poverty, and colonialism.” We will press on because “[t]he fight is already here, and more is yet to come. We cannot be caught sleeping, with our lamps empty, and our houses built on sand.” Amen.
We will let grace in, let grace surprise us, because “if we are not about accountability coupled with mercy, self-preservation coupled with healing, then we are about something other than the very good news that the Holy Spirit is indeed able to transform us.” Amen.
There will be many ends as we face this together.
Some of us will have to say good-bye when we are not ready to.
We will ask if this cup can be taken from us.
For many of us, it won’t be.
There is a lot of news, most of it not good.
But there is still some Good News to be found.
We are here together,
Even when we are apart.
I am here
Like you are here
Like God is here
We are all in this together, as one, our liberation and love bound to one another.
We will all return to dust, to the stars, to the light, to our ancestors, to be made one over and over and over again.
And, look, there is an Easter poem here after all.
Stella, your writing is always so beautiful and powerful. Thank you!