by The Rev. Kathy Boss, Chaplain
Holi, Passover, Holy Week. This week that bridges March and April of 2021 is steeped in traditions that celebrate liberation from death, darkness, and the oppressive forces of the world. Winter is passing, and Spring, bursting with new life, is on its way, both literally and metaphorically. But this year, the Spring is a muddy one. We are celebrating, even as we wait with bated breath to see what life and love will rise from the devastation and revelations of the pandemic.
Holi, celebrated primarily by Hindus, as well as people from other faiths, is celebrated in an exuberance of color. Most years, the streets of Indian cities swell with crowds who smear one another with an abundance of color and cheer, chasing away winter and welcoming spring. This year the crowds are smaller. Many are celebrating in their homes, using social media to connect and send messages of love and hope to one another. Even as we wait, love is what endures.
Jews have had to find new ways of commemorating the miraculous exodus from Egypt and out of slavery—the Passover, or Pesach. This Festival of Freedom—celebrated across the world in gatherings of family and friends with stories, rituals, and traditional foods—has had to be downsized for many in this time of COVID-19. Some have only been able to be together virtually. There is a great deal of creativity happening; new ways of celebrating are cropping up!
Here at The White Mountain School, one of our students, wanting a live and embodied Pesach, asked me to help put together a Passover celebration for students, especially Jewish students who would not be able to go home for the holiday. We celebrated on Sunday evening, the second night of Passover. He led an amazing and fun service, using a Haggadah (the script and liturgy of the Passover service) he’d put together especially for the School. Our kitchen gathered together the elements of the Seder plate and cooked a delicious meal complete with matzah ball soup, kugel, brisket, charoset, and more. Students told stories, remembered, asked and answered the four questions, drank the four cups of wine (grape juice for our students!), and welcomed Elijah. We even put on a short skit. Again, love and creativity endure. New things grow up out of the winter’s fallow months. We hope to continue this tradition again next year.
Holy Week in the Christian church has also looked very different this year. During this week, we remember Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last supper with his disciples, his capture and crucifixion, and finally, on Easter Day, we celebrate his resurrection—life and love triumphing over death and suffering. This Easter Sunday, I will preside over Holy Communion, the Eucharist, for the first time as a newly ordained priest. But it will not be in the sanctuary of the All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Littleton. Instead, we will be holding our Easter service under the portico of our church, facing out to the parking lot where cars and people can gather in chairs or in cars, safely distanced. We had thought, perhaps this year, we’d be back inside our churches, but instead, what we have come to appreciate this year, is how deeply our faith and church community has rooted itself inside of each of us. We are together in ways we hadn’t anticipated; community and love continue to thrive.
Hope is in the air. Spring is here, and a new life will grow, rich with color, tradition, memory, community, and ritual remade for this time and this place. Our job now is to continue to nurture the love and life that comes after winter. Much has been revealed over this year. The work has only just begun. Now in the revelations and debris of one of the most difficult years of our age, we begin hopefully, creatively, and carefully to lay the foundation of a bright future for our young people, as we send them into the world.
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.