This is a very different Easter Sunday.
There are no gatherings to celebrate the resurrection and no congregation to hear sermons of hope. Pope Francis in Rome will be a solitary figure silhouetted against a vast, empty St Peter’s square.
We may be unfamiliar with the Jewish Passover, a celebration of the emancipation of the Jews escaping from slavery in ancient Egypt. It sometimes falls close to Easter, as it does this year.
For Passover 2020, faithful Jews may have been forced to break the prohibition against the use of electric devices on holy days in order to gather the family by electronic means for seder (the first family meal).
Our Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters are likewise, also under the constraint of adjusted religious practices, but will stay equally resolute in the face of the Covid-19 plague.
Many of us will not awake to the shush shushing and other sibilance of the sea, as we would normally have done at Mayaro and other beaches. So many others will not be packing their picnic for the day.
Don’t cry for us, Mayaro. We will not be on your shore this Easter weekend. Enjoy the paradox that, while we are forced to remain at home to avoid the risk of illness and death from the universal strike of the plague, you will be spared the pollution that we bring you.
Mayaro, we have wronged you but you will have a plastic and bottle free Easter. You will regenerate and rejuvenate while we shrink in fear but look for hope for our own rejuvenation which is uncertain, when yours will likely happen because we cannot come and harm you.
Venice, Italy, is one of the most breathtaking places in the world I have seen, but a place we have mightily abused. Its rejuvenation free of cruise ships and other excessive marine vessel traffic has been quick.
Reporting on nature taking back Venice, a major hotel owner confirmed to a British newspaper that the waters of its famous canals are ‘blue and clear again’. There is ‘a clear view of the sandy bed and shoals of tiny fish, scuttling crabs and duck nests at a boat pier’.
The absence of the annual twenty million tourists will destroy the economy, but the hotel owner says: “I honestly believe we should take the opportunity of this lockdown to reflect and see how we can be more organised in the future to find a balance between the city and tourism.”
Mayaro, we are sorry, but are we sincere? While in words of David Rudder’s apology to Haiti, we may ‘one day turn our heads and look inside’, will we really take that reflective pause the Venetian hotelier has recommended? Will we apply it across the board to all our activities?
Yes, Mayaro, knowing that corona is Spanish for crown, you would be right to look askance at us wearing a corona of thorns this Easter, from which we will not be released by a resurrection any time soon.
Mayaro, we miss you. I am thinking, as I did last week, how material success can become zero; but you are still there and will remain there as a testament to our ultimate inferiority, at least until climate change diminishes you too, because climate change is set to be ‘the fire next time’—with acknowledgement to James Baldwin.
Beloved Mayaro, of course underlying this writing, I am thinking also of the confession of Evita Peron who recognised that Argentina ought not to cry for her because success changed her: ‘it won’t be easy, you will think it strange when I try to explain how I feel that I still need your love after all that I have done’.
Nevertheless, Mayaro, thank you for the memory of your cooling breezes. They keep me from yielding, on a weekend of reflection like this, to the heat of requests to write more about the testing runaround that The Ministry of Health is perpetrating on us and the rising tide of divisiveness, for which the government is seeking to evade its share of responsibility.
God spare life, commentators will continue salutary scrutiny.