By Tony Hooker
It was surreal.
Sitting at my kitchen table on Easter Sunday morning, “attending” Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, on my phone.
Responding with an “Amen” icon as I said it aloud to myself. Reciting the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei, as I was taught eight or nine years ago when I made the decision to join the Catholic faith. The familiarity filled my heart with joy as I went through the steps, but it was different. Something was missing that I struggled for a while to put my fingers on. And then it came to me.
All of the parts were there, and Father Aloy’s homily was moving and well thought out, as always, but there was no one to share it with, physically. I’m not the world’s most religious fellow, and my church attendance has been spotty at best, but I have come to know God, and I know that He is with me always, as he was as we celebrated the fundamental event of our faith on Easter. Normally on Easter, our church is filled with familiar faces, all sharing a brief word or smile of hello. This year, I celebrated the Eucharist through prayer, rather than through the physical act of sharing the body and the blood of Christ, and it wasn’t the same. This is in no way meant as a slam on the video mass. I am very grateful for all who have worked so hard to make it possible, and I’ll be trying to tune in each week, as my personal journey continues. But it is different and that can’t be denied.
It’s what COVID-19 has largely taken away from us. Mrs. Hook Line and Sinker summed it up in a conversation we recently had. “I miss being able to go to the Mall and just wander around,” she said. And I understood. Sharing the communal act of people watching and going from store to store, just looking. Getting “Mall Chicken” from Sarku, and maybe finding a bargain that you weren’t expecting to buy and going to the sporting goods store and dreaming about the fishing and hunting supplies that you can neither afford nor have the time to use if you could.
It’s what the softball and baseball folks are missing the most, right now. The shared experience of sweet triumphs and bitter defeats is what makes sports so appealing, to my way of thinking. And there really isn’t a replacement for that sense of accomplishment during these strange days.
It’s what made the simple act of the fire department taking four hours out of their holy Sunday to drive the Easter Bunny up every street in town so important. With the children of town sheltering in place, this event brought smiles and memories to them that will endure long after the peanut butter eggs and peeps and ham and cheesy potatoes have been consumed.
It’s what makes our towns and cities what they are. COVID-19 can force us to change the frequency and the manner in which we interact, but it can’t force us not to recognize that we’re all in this together. Yes, it’s different, but it still exists, and I’m glad to be a part of it.