(As we started the week with a guest blog from our daughter Angie, we’ll finish it out that way as well. To even things out, however, next week we’ll share some thoughts from the vicar in that family, our son-in-law Steve, who serves as an Anglican pastor in the Midlands town of Loughborough.)
“I can’t see friends. I miss going out. I want to go on playgrounds.
And I’m really too sad to sleep. I’m getting bored at home.
And I’m getting tired of the same games.
And I miss going to church because I like Easter services.
I just like it being Easter at church.”
Our seven-year old son Jed was up late again on Sunday night so I climbed into his bed with my laptop so we could write out some of his worries. This was how his list began, and there were plenty of other things he missed, too, like going to the sweet shop in town, and going out for family walks in the countryside. We had just enjoyed a nice Easter day as a family and had tried to fill the day with a real sense of joy so our three kids could see that even in this time we can still truly celebrate Jesus being alive. But Jed, our most liturgically-oriented child who is drawn into the beauty of church tradition, felt the loss of “it being Easter at church.”
We missed it, too, as did so many believers around the world. We are now finishing our fourth week of sheltering in place here in the UK, and our three kids (ages 7, 5, and 2) are getting more restless (aren’t we all?). The UK guidelines are such that we are only to leave our homes sparingly for food shopping, or for medical attention, or for one form of exercise once a day. Almost everything is closed besides grocery stores and pharmacies. Our kids are missing even just being in the car and are now begging to go to our local Aldi (which they can’t do). It is hard not to be envious of our Texas family being able to drive through Chick-fil-a!
The coronavirus crisis here across the pond has made that pond feel more like the ocean it is, as it’s odd not to know when we can get on a plane to see our family (and go to Chick-fil-a) again. It’s strange, as well, to be experiencing the same crisis in different ways. The drive of the UK government’s campaign is to “Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.” Our National Health Service (NHS) is something the country can rally behind, to be sure. Still, the coronavirus crisis has made the UK feel smaller and more connected, almost like a taste of wartime Britain, when everyone kept calm and carried on.
But keeping calm is not the same as having calm in your heart, and it’s that kind of heart-restlessness that keeps us (and our children) up at night. On Sunday night after we had typed out Jed’s worries, we then listed things that were good at the moment, things that we could be thankful for, and things that we were looking forward to. It can take a lot of prodding to see the good and to practice hope.
And it struck me that this season of Eastertide is just what we need right now. For our present season is all about the crazy practice of hope in the resurrected Jesus. We still believe that Jesus is alive and with us now, and we hope in what He can and will do. But the thing about the resurrected Jesus is that we never know where He is going to turn up for He is always up to far more than anyone can figure out. Jesus has a bigger mission that we realize.
Maybe our task at hand now is just to keep on seeking the risen Lord— to find out what He is up to in all of this, in our countries, in our families, in our hearts. The Lord is working, and He might just surprise us with where we see Him next.