Easter just doesn’t feel right this year.
For most Central Texans, that’s certainly understandable.
Egg hunts have been canceled, family gatherings have been scaled back and in-person church services are virtually nonexistent on what for Christians is the holiest day of the year.
Like so many other aspects of our daily life, the celebration of Easter has been suppressed by the social-distancing directives put in place to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
And while those directives seem to be succeeding in “flattening the curve” of the disease’s spread, they have effectively placed our lives on hold.
School is out — at least until May 6.
Most local cities and school districts have pushed their May elections back to November.
Businesses are either closed or offering limited services.
Banquets, sporting events, concerts and even weddings have been canceled or postponed.
We’re all in holding pattern — waiting for things to get better, praying they don’t get worse and wondering if life will ever be the same.
Gov. Greg Abbott recently extended the state’s shelter-at-home order through the end of April. After what had been a week-to-week approach, Texans realize that this new reality of limited public interaction will continue for another 18 days — if not longer.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases continues to mount, both in Bell County and across the state. As of Friday, the county had reported 84 cases of the coronavirus, with three fatalities. Statewide, those numbers were even more sobering: 11,671 cases and 226 fatalities.
As a community, we are weary, wary and worried.
If ever we needed the hope of Easter, this is certainly the time.
Historically, Easter is a holiday associated with renewal and rebirth, and we are seeing that spirit take hold across the Killeen-Fort Hood area.
Our local school districts are offering breakfasts and lunches to all area students, regardless of need. And they are providing both education and encouragement to students who can’t be at school through student packets, distance learning and online pep rallies.
Libraries, gyms and arts schools are offering virtual classes, programs and other activities to help area residents fill the void in their daily routines.
Many local businesses are helping to support our overburdened doctors, nurses and other health care professionals through donations of meals and needed supplies.
Several people in the community are making cloth masks to help prevent the virus’ spread, and giving them away to the general public. Others are making generous donations to local food pantries.
Importantly, many churches have gone online to bring worship services to their congregations via social media.
Through perseverance, ingenuity, collaboration and compassion, Central Texans have managed to move forward despite the mandated social-distancing restrictions in place.
That’s a testament to our resilience as a community — and it’s another basis for hope.
As we confront the fears brought about by this unprecedented public health crisis, it’s clear that we need the reassurance that Easter can provide.
Today, hundreds of Central Texans will gather around their computers, cellphones and tablets to take part in the many virtual Easter services offered on social media — worshipping both separately and together.
Across our community, our state and our nation, those who tune in to these services will hear the biblical story that has been told on this day for nearly 2,000 years — the story of Jesus, a man who died so that others’ sins would be forgiven, a man who overcame suffering and the grave, a man who opened the way to eternal life for those who would follow him.
It’s a story of redemption, a story of victory and a story of hope.
With all that we are going through right now, it’s a story we need to hear, no matter what our backgrounds or beliefs might be.
Certainly, the coronavirus and the efforts to slow its spread have taken a toll on our daily lives — and in some cases, a dreadfully heavy toll.
But the virus hasn’t succeeded in destroying our faith in each other or our hope in the future.
Today, let us nurture that faith and rekindle that hope.
This may be a most unusual Easter, but its meaning still rings true.
Let’s all rest, reflect — and rejoice.