Holiday celebrations can sometimes be forced affairs. A date on a calendar is hardly reason of itself to raise spirits and feel emotions that the holiday evokes. Living with a serious illness or debilitating pain can certainly overshadow any “happy” occasion – even the birthday of a loved one or a day like today, Easter Sunday, when we are able once again to lift up the “Alleluia” in church and praise God for this marvelous gift of salvation.
How do we sing “Alleluia!” if we feel downtrodden, hopeless, sad, and weighed down by illness? How do we feel the balm of faith, the comfort of God who truly loves each of us and is ever-present?
I remember holidays when I lost my voice, had awful pain, couldn’t go to mass. I remember Christmases when I was too sick to get out of bed. And Easters, too. ”Normal” ways of celebrating were unavailable to me. Participating as part of a faith community was impossible, too. In those times, I did what I could to remember the day. Reading scripture and other inspirational work, watching services on television or listening to uplifting music were helpful. But most of all, what was truly helpful was that, these holidays, as fixxed as they are on the calendar or as part of a liturgical cycle, are events we can celebrate, indeed live, each day.
If you have been too sick to participate in Easter services, or feel so awful that it is difficult to raise your voice in praiseful song, know that God is still with you, and that this Easter is with you, too, bringing the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection and our eternal salvation. Know that your heart is held gently in God’s hands. And know that you will have other opportunities to celebrate, to praise, to live the reality that is Easter, as the days unfold.
As Christians gather worldwide on Easter Sunday, they will pray for you, for me, and for all people of good faith. Feel those prayers, feel that care that comes with them. And feel that, although pain and illness are very deep, the joy of God’s love and the spirit of Easter go even deeper – to the soul which, no matter what, is always ready to sing “Alleluia!”
Blessings for the day,