Rev Harris

Challenging times create new opportunities for holiday observances

Typically, each spring families and their friends look forward to Easter and Passover, celebrating religious-based holidays associated with the arrival of spring. Depending on the weather – and family traditions – observances may include home-based gatherings or meeting in a restaurant. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the governor’s orders to stay at home, there will be no elaborate Easter brunches or Passover Seders.

For some, changing a traditional family celebration can create anxiety and feelings of sadness. Bayhealth Chaplain Supervisor Rev. Carol E. Harris offers some suggestions for dealing with these situations in a positive way.

Creativity: “We have to be more creative now. We have to be intentional about not losing the things that give our humanity strength,” she said. Although people can’t physically get together or hug each other, she suggests using technology – social connection platforms - as opportunities to get together while COVID-19 related restrictions limit traditional worship services. Several churches throughout our region offer live streaming serves via Facebook.

Intention: No matter how people express their spirituality, many struggle with the social isolation created by enforced attempts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “Religious practices and gathering go hand-in-hand; gathering is the way we support each other and share our faith,” said Rev. Harris.

She urges people to recognize the importance of togetherness. “We have to be intentional about not losing those moments,” she added. Some people may opt for an interactive platform, such as Zoom, to set up a virtual family dinner; for others, a phone call, a greeting card or an email still maintains a connection.

Downsize: Households can celebrate together without invited guests and create a smaller, yet meaningful, holiday. “We can change how we gather. It’s about how we gather,” said Rev. Harris. “We can still support each other in smaller numbers.”

Music and meditation:  Easter, Passover, and Ramadan are all faith-based holidays. “Music and prayer are a part of every faith, and every faith has a way of worship that includes music and prayer. Those practices can happen no matter where you are.”

Despite current restrictions and challenges they present, Rev. Harris focuses on opportunity. “This is a moment of blessed creativity. Our spirits are still open. The sun is still shining. Take a moment and settle into that. It’s not about what’s missing. It’s about what is present and expressing gratitude for that as we remain conscious of one another.”