(Trail Times file image)

(Trail Times file image)

Pondering in the time of global pandemic

Louise McEwan is a former freelance columnist based in the West Kootenay

Over the next days and weeks, people of faith will have to be flexible and creative because Covid-19 has upended religious celebrations. Passover, Easter and Ramadan will have to be observed virtually in the home, making use of online streaming of religious services. FaceTime, Skype or Zoom will be useful in exchanging greetings in lieu of traditional family gatherings and feasts.

Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday) is my favourite week of the year. While I will miss participating in community celebrations, I’m determined to make the week as spiritually nourishing as possible.

The historical events of Holy Week and the religious beliefs arising from those events are particularly relevant to the human condition and experience. I have been reflecting on the relevance of Easter in light of the global pandemic.

My reflection begins with the word “ponder”. In the Gospel of Luke, “ponder” describes Mary’s response to words and events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Mary, Luke says, “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” “Ponder” is used elsewhere in the scriptures, most commonly in the Psalms. The psalmist ponders God’s mighty deeds, and God’s law, for example. While “ponder” is generally defined as to consider carefully, or to weight, it may also mean to hold things in tension. In physics, tension, very simply put, is a pulling force that stretches something. Thought of in this way, pondering something can stretch our understanding. It may reveal truths that were previously hidden from us.

Consider the following illustration from an Easter decades ago when my children were small. Along with their cousins, the children were at their grandparents home for the annual outdoor Easter egg hunt. Their grandfather had written a riddle; the solution to the riddle would reveal the spot where he’d hidden a treasure of golden chocolate coins. The children were gathered around, listening as he read out the riddle. He had barely finished when all but my daughter ran off, helter-skelter, running aimlessly from place to place looking for the treasure. My daughter stood stock still, pondering her grandfather’s words. When she’d figured out the answer, she moved towards the location of the treasure. One of her older cousins observed her movement, and being bigger and faster, he beat her to the treasure, happily holding it aloft proclaiming his success. (There was no mens rea intended, and the treasure, as usual, was shared out between the cousins.)

The treasure hunt had created competition amongst the cousins. Who would figure out the riddle first? Who would find it and be the winner? Only one child was able to hold in tension the elements required to solve the riddle with the desire to be the winner. She was able to sit with the mystery of the riddle, and to unravel its meaning.

Tension figures prominently in the dawn of the first Easter morning. In John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala goes early to the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. She finds it empty, the body gone. Fearing that someone has stolen the corpse, she runs to find Peter. Mary, Peter and another disciple run back to the tomb. The two male disciples enter the tomb, see the burial cloths and run off, leaving Mary alone. Mary, however, sits with and in the emptiness of that moment. She holds her grief, fear and confusion in tension with hope, possibly remembering and understanding for the first time the mysterious words of Jesus who said he would rise on the third day.

There are moments in life, when like Mary, we sit in the tomb. The world is experiencing one of those moments. During this time of pandemic, uncertainty, constant change, anxiety, isolation and loss have become our universal companions. Our governments are asking us to faithfully adhere to social-distancing, hand washing, and cough etiquette. We must adapt as the ground beneath our feet shifts, and while science tries to unravel the mystery of this disease.

With no end in sight, we must hold in tension the present reality with the knowledge that this too will pass. Like a little girl puzzling out a riddle in hopes of finding a treasure, or like Mary Magdala sitting with the mystery of an empty tomb, we can hope for a metaphorical resurrection, a rebirth that could positively change the manner in which we live.

Louise McEwan

Warfield, BC

Louise McEwan is a former freelance columnist. She has degrees in English Literature and Theology, and a background in education and faith formation.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

The Coldest Night of the Year event will raise money for the local Getting to Home program. Walk virtually or in-person on Feb. 20 – there’s a place for everyone! Photo: Trail Times
Be part of Coldest Night of the Year; be part of a solution for Trail

Proceeds from the Feb. 20 fundraiser will be directed into Getting to Home

Driver taken to hospital after hitting ditch near Genelle

Kootenay Boundary first responders attend single vehicle accident, RCMP investigate

Ron Clarke has his MBA and is owner of JBS Business Services in Trail, providing accounting and tax services.
COVID-19: How do you spell retirement?

Here’s a resolution some business owners may have made a few weeks ago, “I aspire to retire.”

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Volunteer firefighters from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue head towards the scene of fatal car crash near Gibbs Creek Road, below Highway 3, Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read