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Nalini Joseph: This Easter, give thanks for blessings we’ll enjoy

By Nalini Joseph

On Easter 2020, for the first time in history, many Americans watched vigils and services online.

Traditional, large family gathering plans were nixed and restaurants were either closed or close to empty. The eternal optimist, I believed that by the time summer (of 2020) was over, COVID-19 would be on its way out and life would return to normal. But here we are — a year later — with a COVID still lurking at our doorstep.

We have learned to adjust and adapt. In many parts of the country, we have learned how to strike a balance between keeping people as healthy as possible while keeping the economy churning. We turn the TV off, knowing that COVID is not going away any time soon, no matter how much new COVID news our local stations inundate us with.

But what is also true is we, as Americans, have become much more resilient. Most of us have learned to persevere through this pandemic. Perseverance is described as, “the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Many of our children in our society lack the ability to persevere simply because they are not taught to persevere. Parents and teachers give into the temptation to feed children with the help and answers to their problems. Rather than allowing a child to fail, to figure out how to untangle themselves out of the weeds, we give them our two-minute reflection on all the possibilities and probabilities for a successful outcome.

Part of what made my mother and father’s generation so strong and resilient was not just the work ethic that was instilled within them, but the expectation their parents had that no matter what barriers their children faced in school or at work, that they would succeed and become productive members of society. Post-depression era parents expected their children to keep the family business running, to get through high school or college with good grades and to work as many jobs as necessary to support the family. Because of world wars and widespread poverty, children were taught to be grateful for education, healthcare, employment and food on the table. Adversity and trials were a given: perseverance is what got you over onto the other side. Isn’t it interesting that almost a century later, we are now learning about perseverance all over again? COVID has taught us to be grateful for our jobs, for church, for school, for health, for family and social gatherings.

Yes, we’ve complained, we’ve criticized and we’ve pushed back on being regulated by politicians and government mandates. Yet, through this experience, we have increased our ability to have hope and joy in the things that we once took for granted.

At a Maundy Thursday service this week, Father John Eckert fought back tears as he spoke about the privilege of holding an in-person service during holy week. None of us could have imagined that just over a year ago, churches would be as empty as the tomb on Easter Sunday. This year we shout “Alleluia!” with new zeal as churches open their doors and lawns for holy week services.

Does it take empty streets, shops, restaurants and schools for us realize what a privilege it is to live a healthy and free life in America? In many countries, empty streets and closed businesses signify internal political strife or war. As a child living in India, I was told that I couldn’t go outside to play on election day. There was live tension in the air during the heat of the elections, with many schools shut down and public transportation scarce. As an adult living in America, I have come to appreciate those who serve our government through political office, the military and law enforcement. I can vote and be politically engaged in my community with little concern for my personal safety.

This Easter Sunday, let us remember the condition of our world a year ago, giving thanks for all the great blessings we can enjoy this year. Let’s continue to ask for God’s strength as we persevere through this pandemic, fully believing that we will surface from the depths of grief that 2020 brought our way.

Nalini Joseph is a Salisbury resident. Email her at nalinijones1@hotmail.com.

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