Gathering is something I’ve not spent a lot of time thinking about in the past, but it is on my mind now – as are many things we are currently prevented from doing. If it is restricted, does it affect us? If it is forbidden or illegal, does it change our plans – are we defiant, or do we find innovative ways to skirt the rules, defy the authority?
Whether or not you are religious, most people celebrate this time somewhat ‘religiously,’ as in habitually, traditionally, and festively.
Celebrate as usual, but apart.
Someone bakes a ham.
Somebody roasts a turkey.
Someone makes an ordinary meal – but for a crowd.
Easter feasts, Seder dinners, religious services and observances, etc. – we gather in groups, as families, as members of fraternal and community organizations, to feed, to feast, to fete …
Those days of the week, occasions around the calendar – beyond celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, when people gather for more straightforward reasons. Long-standing traditions of importance within families. Times for celebrations and laughter, games, political debates, and petty gossip. Times for telling bad jokes, for ‘the kids table,’ sprinkled episodes of rude behavior too when dysfunctional families, substance abuse, and just plain disagreeable folks get together.
This time of year, we have holidays, festivals, and religious observances: reading week, spring break, Lent, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, chicks, bunnies, and egg-shaped candy. Celebrations involve big meals, hams, turkeys, yams, and jelly-mold salads.
These are practiced by billions of people, many of them very devout, many of them less-so, many just ‘going along’ with convention, part of the industries (makers of products, greeting cards, gadgets, and candy) surrounding them – and nearly every thinking-feeling person identifying with some part of it that connects to childhood, upbringing, and traditions in our family home. From youth through middle-ages, we’ve enjoyed and endured these events – often in the company of family members, we’ve traveled, vacationed, and hung out with friends and family.
Now we keep our distance.
This is new. Not a ‘this year’ event – it’s a ‘once a century event.’ We are always at risk of such calamitous events, but like massive floods, we would like to think of these as once in a lifetime ‘100-year’ events.
The earth kept spinning, but nearly every human activity hit the pause button; every human’s life will be impacted, as we have already, with changes we might not have expected. And what about next year?
To all, a happy ________ (fill in this blank with whatever you celebrate).
I hope your ________ celebration is happy, healthy, and full of laughter.
To all those who are situated somewhere else; particularly prisons, refugee camps, hospitals, nursing homes, and all congregate living facilities, I am hopeful for you that the COVID-19 skips your room, skips your cell, skips your bed – and this period of uniqueness leaves you safe and peaceful.
I grew up in a ‘Christian home,’ in terms of the church we went to, and holidays we celebrated. My mother had a bible, her mother’s, kept in a drawer. I attended Sunday School. I was delivered. Participation was not optional. I quit/became a dis-believer at eleven and have not returned. Churches have been ‘where I got married twice,’ and where I’ve attended funerals and a few weddings. They are, for me, not places of worship or faith but instead gathering places for the like-minded, or celebration of events and occasions. It seems our society, whatever our belief systems may be, need a place of gathering.
And now that is changed, at least temporarily, but a virus which has quickly taught us to ‘not gather’ together. Technology is helping. And changing. How we gather, when we gather, and perhaps causing us all to wonder ‘why we gather?’
Gather this weekend, but keep a safe distance, or go virtual. Whatever we believe, we need each other in some way – so let’s do it safely.
Agree completely, Mark. Unfortunately, today, the average person has no way to tell if news is true or unbiased. How would we ever know if Donald Trump or Jason Kenney ever told the “truth”, LH, Lethbridge, AB