I have an early childhood memory of my mother leaving a basin of water out in the back yard on a bright Easter Sunday morning and inviting us to look in and watch the sun dance! ‘The sun dances on Easter morning’, she told us.
It’s the kind of message of joy and hope that we all need during these difficult days.
The Easter story begins in darkness and sorrow. The disciples were hidden away behind locked doors, isolated and feeling alone, fearing for their lives. But when Christ rose from the dead he brought back the light of hope into the darkness of despair. The stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb. He entered through the closed doors of the place where the disciples were and he said to them ‘peace be with you.’
Easter reminds us that, as Pope Francis keeps saying, we must never let ourselves be ‘robbed of hope’. As the children’s hymn joyfully puts it:
‘They buried my body
And they thought I’d gone,
But I am the Dance,
And I still go on.
Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he’.
We know how important it is to continue to make sacrifices and to maintain the current restrictions in order to protect and save lives. Please God it won’t be too long before we can go back to singing and dancing together, to meeting and greeting, travelling and discovering, and gathering in church to celebrate and praise God.
But what will we have learned? What is this crisis teaching us about ourselves and others, about faith and hope, about the importance of caring and loving, of living simpler lives and managing our expectations? In a strange way these days of seclusion have been helping us stop and think about what we value and perhaps even question some of the ways we have been living our lives.
An old medieval carol about the life of Jesus promises that ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’. We still have a long way to go in the fight against Covid-19 and its consequences. There will be many more sacrifices to make before this is all over. But as surely as Christ rose on Easter morning, we will come through this, hopefully as better people, strengthened by the experience.
A very happy Easter to you all, and to our loved ones and friends across the world this Easter time.
Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland