Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on – and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
—”Everyone Sang” by Siegfried Sassoon
It is Holy Week and we are in exile from normal life. We can’t go to work, we can’t go to school, we can’t go to church. It is Holy Week, but this year there will be no spreading of Christ’s light from candle to candle at the Easter Vigil, no triumphant belting out of “Jesus Christ Has Risen Today” on Easter morning. There is only this quiet, quiet existence that I still don’t recognize. Each of us is curled inside our own little dewdrop—a reflection of our former lives, upside down—waiting to fall.
Here inside my dewdrop I’m baking bread, starting seeds, knitting dishcloths in case we run out of paper towels, and painting wooden Easter eggs to hide in the yard for the kids. We’re walking, walking, walking—in circles, up hills, across streams and bridges. And running—down hills with our arms outstretched like wings as we rush through the clear air. We’re watching the pond rise and fall with the melting snow and the spring rains. We’re watching the geese come and go; the moon fill with light and wither. I can’t conjure up common happiness, but maybe there is still some joy to find or make in these small, close moments.
I went to see our priest yesterday, to be reconciled with God before Easter—those venial sins (that impatience, that self-pity) tend to pile up in difficult times. It was a good visit, a good confession. For just a little while I am free. So, give me those long-buried Alleluias! Give me that glorious Resurrection, that golden sun warming my face, those green shoots reaching, that soft bird calling me from sleep early in the morning. For just a little while, I am right-side up again and winging wildly across the fields.
Count it all joy, my brethren,
when you meet various trials,
for you know that the testing
of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.
* * *
Be not discouraged, keep on,
there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things
more beautiful than words can tell.