Easter, 2020: the religious cannot go to church. Easter egg hunts are limited to the family backyard.
Easter, 1986: millions gathered on St. Peter’s Square to worship.
It was a beautiful, moving sight — a sight I was lucky to witness firsthand and up close.
Yes, in 1986, this American Jewish girl sat in front of St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope John Paul II spoke and prayed in multiple languages to the multitudes of faithful assembled there.
Yes, I sat there in awe on a bright sunny day, humbled to see a sea of people united in joy and harmony. Even though it was not my holy day, not my faith. But it gave me faith in the goodness of people to come together in a moment of peace. I knew it was something I would never forget and, of course, I never have.
I had this amazing experience thanks to my tenure as a White House Fellow and work as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. We were at the Vatican that weekend for a series of meetings.
Today I cannot help but recall that astonishing Easter so long ago as I think about the struggle families are having figuring out how to celebrate both Easter and the Jewish holy day of Passover. Zoom seders with family and friends scattered across town and continent are not a “tradition” anyone wants to repeat nor are religious services carried via video conferencing FaceTime chats between grandparents and grandchildren where the little ones end up sobbing.
But Easter is the story of resurrection. Passover is the story of survival from slavery and plagues. So, in time, Easter 2020 will be but a memory. Happier Easter memories will be made. More joyous Passover seders will be held.
Till then, stay healthy and I hope the Easter bunny did, somehow, make it to your house. Hugs to you all.