This year Easter and Passover will be very different holidays for all of us.
Where we once went to houses of worship and gathered with families, today many of us will huddle in self-quarantine. It is lonely for some, heartbreaking for others. And terrifying for all.
We have so many unanswered questions: When will this end? Will the virus go away? Will the economy ever recover? Will my family survive? Will my friends be okay? Will I still have a job? Can I cuddle the dog?
I think back to the Passover when Jesus sat with the disciples he would never see again. And then the first Easter, when he vanished and nobody knew for sure where he went. There have always been more questions than answers; Not knowing awakens the human experience.
I cannot tell you how to become more comfortable with the unknown. There is yoga, religion, meditation and Xanax. There are deep breaths, there is self-care and self-awareness. You can tell your mind to pipe down, but that’s not a guarantee that it will listen.
“Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional.”
This quote, attributed to Buddha, is six words of truth and discomfort. Pain is part of life; it’s a warning, a wake-up call, a moment of clarity and a minute of terror. But suffering – choosing to catastrophize and worry – that is our own doing.
I am inspired by a friend who is battling lung cancer. Just for the record, she is a fitness professional, never smoked, never did drugs, doesn’t eat sugar (I told her she should have had the dessert). She shows me what it means to seize the moment, to live and to love. She is clear on what is important to her, children, family, friends and her rescue dogs.
Willa Cather said, “Some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Like my girlfriend, we are all in the midst of a storm. Human beings are creatures of both comfort and community, and now we are waaaaay outside our comfort zone.
Perhaps we needed to change. Perhaps our planet was dying from too much industry as evidenced by our cleaner skies after just a few weeks of confinement. Perhaps this disease, and resulting dis-ease and death, is a wake-up call so we too can be clear on what is important – children, family, friends and a pet.
This year our Easter and Passover is going to look very different. We won’t be cooking for three days or running out four times to the supermarket frantic for one more item.
Most of us will set aside our needs and do what we must to take care of the many. It is one lesson of Passover and Easter, that our individual wants may seem insignificant compared to saving humanity. For myself, I am going to call my loved ones. And then I’m going to kick off my shoes and do something I have never done on Easter in my life.
I’m going to take a nap.
May you find your purpose, may you find a moment of peace, may you put aside our collective need for answers, comfort and community, and simply be okay with what is. And then may you take a nap this holiday.
Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse and an award-winning writer. She is the author of a memoir and four books on yoga, and teaches in Denver, Colorado. Main Image by Kaitlyn Ferris.