This Easter was a challenging time for many of us. I could never have imagined that my daughter Sarah and I would end up spending the holiday at home alone — or that we would have hot dogs and tater tots for Easter dinner (I let Sarah pick – I should have seen that coming!). Although we were physically separated from family, we connected in other ways. I am grateful for the many suggestions on opportunities to remain engaged with each other even though we are not sharing the same physical space.
Easter is a celebration of Resurrection; it is a time of new beginnings and I can’t think of a more relevant theme for this moment. We’ve been told to stay home, to rethink the ways we live our daily lives, and to do so knowing that our individual actions have life and death consequences. We’ve found that much of what we thought we couldn’t live without is actually insignificant and that our choices do matter beyond our own purview.
Our eyes have also been opened to the inequity in our societies. Persons of color are infected and dying at a much higher rate than caucasians. Those who have become known as essential workers are risking their own lives for the rest of us; and yet they suffer the highest rate of pay inequity and are disproportionately female. Some of us have the privilege of working from home and earning a paycheck while caring for our children when so many face uncertainty after being furloughed.
Our communal actions in response to this crisis have been awe inspiring. We’ve come to see our stories reflected in one another regardless of social or geographical location and have witnessed the power of compassion and the human spirit. Mary Daly has explained that God is a verb; that our actions reveal God’s presence in our lives. With this understanding, I know that God is present. As I see strangers come together to sing in a virtual choir, to cheer for first responders, and to selflessly choose to head to the hardest hit cities to lend a helping hand, God is with us.
We are experiencing much grief and fear in this moment. Many of our loved ones have become ill, or passed on. We struggle with theodicy questions; why would God allow such devastation to occur? However, instead of asking why, as our eyes are being opened to the realities of our world, this is a moment that calls for deep reflection. We must look at ourselves and ask what role we are playing in the power structures that perpetuate injustice and what actions we are taking to support our communities. What are our personal missions and how are we engaging them? And, as we recognize our ability to work together while physically separated, what have we learned, how can we continue positive engagement, and what can we do differently?
This Easter, while eating hot dogs and tater tots with my daughter, we reflected, and I continue to do so. I love the song “Mercy” by the Dave Matthews Band and I think it calls us to engage in such reflection. It was the sermon I needed this Easter holiday, and I think it offers us much to consider about changes we can make to ensure the new beginning our local and global communities need.
Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, activist, and mom. She serves as Associate Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies at Ursuline College and is co-founder of . She has written for the Huffington Post and is author or editor of five books including Women Religion Revolution. Messina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences and on national platforms including appearances on MSNBC, Tavis Smiley, NPR and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives of women around the globe. Messina is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing. Connect with her on Twitter @GMessinaPhD, Instagram: @GinaMessinaPhD, Facebook, and her website ginamessina.com.