I think it is impossible to endure the quarantine for this virus during this time of year and not think of Passover. Passover is an eight-day holiday that commemorates the departure of the Jews from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. Passover 2020 is from sundown on April 8, to sundown on Thursday, April 16. The date changes each year because is not set by the Gregorian calendar, but by the lunar-based Hebrew calendar. Passover is observed with a religious feast called a Seder that includes the “Seder Plate,” a place-setting of food representing the binds of slavery.|
The name of the holiday is a reference to Exodus 12:13, in which God inflicts ten plagues upon the Egyptians after the Pharaoh refuses to free the Israelites from slavery. The plagues of Egypt included water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the killing of firstborn sons. During the final plague, the killing of the firstborn, the Israelites marked the doorframes of their homes with lamb’s blood so the angel of death would “pass over” each Jewish household. The Israelite sons were spared. Following, the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt in a great exodus.
Of course, when I heard the story of The Passover as a child in church, I could not imagine any of the plagues of Egypt really happening. I mean, a virus that sweeps across the planet and shuts down the ant-like busy-work of humankind is fiction… Isn’t it? Swarms of locusts, decimating hail, mobs of bullfrogs—that’s fiction. Or seemed to be.
It won’t be long before the 17-year cicadas emerge in southeast West Virginia, and southwest Virginia. (This would be Brood IX of the cicada broods that lay claim to much of the eastern United States, stretching from New England to Oklahoma.) Each brood emerges from the ground in different years. Usually. But in 2017, certain portions of certain broods started emerging early. I’m not saying they’ll all emerge at once like some winged virus infecting the world, but some things don’t seem so far-fetched as of late.
I have noticed on social media that many Christian homes are placing red ribbons over their doors this year to celebrate Passover, perhaps with prayers or hopes that coronavirus will pass over their households. Christians celebrate this week as Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. The Passion of Christ is the story of Jesus Christ's arrest, trial, and suffering. It ends with his execution by crucifixion--and his resurrection on Easter Day.
I find it difficult to process that worldwide, synagogues and churches will be closed during Passover and Holy Week. I still find it difficult to process that a virus has infected the planet. But this is a week to celebrate rebirth, spring, miracles, release from our bindings, grace, and peace that surpasses all understanding. We need not gather together to be grateful for such things, and we all need a reason to celebrate. Perhaps this is the week of our quarantine that we too celebrate Passover. We can prepare a special meal of our own at home, "flatten the curve" even further and turn our focus from our troubles to our blessings.
While all other Normantown Historical Community Center events have been canceled at this time, the Food Pantry will still be held on April 10. It looks to be a drive-thru concept, and you should not expect to get out of your car. Volunteers are asking that your clean your trunk or truck bed before arrival so they can simply place the food boxes in your vehicle. Thanks to Martin Hess and his crew for their help during this crisis -- transporting food, moving freezers, etc. Martin has been a Godsend these last few weeks.
Donations to NHCC can be made online at nhccwv.com/donation or mailed to NHCC, 3031 Hackers Creek Road, Jane Lew 26378, c/o Margaret. Donkey Basketball has been rescheduled for October 17th, 2020.
Lisa Hayes-Minney is an author, teacher, librarian, and publisher. For more information about her workshops, services, and books visit www.lhayesminney.net