They say things are getting worse.
They say things are going to get better, maybe even better than the “better” they said before.
But none of them or us has the final say.
How are you holding up, kittens? Hanging onto hope like a cartoon kitten clasping the string of a kite? Battered by news that today bashes, tomorrow boosts your hopes? Is there a “surge” in your city, a surge of cases or kindnesses or glimpses of something like light at the end of something like a tunnel?
Are you OK even though things are still very much not OK?
Here at Tabby’s Place — and, by “here,” I include the “here” of my home 22 miles away, and the “here” of your safe places wherever you may be — we are OK. Not perpetually sparkling, but OK. Not invincibly admirable in our coping mechanisms, but OK.
We are getting OK with the idea that there’s no finding our footing in these far-fetched days. We can’t plant our paws down with any more grace than Tipsy, but we can forge onward (and if we can do so with even an ounce of his optimism, we will be more than OK).
One day we’re all half-giddy just sharing photos of Gogi the Yogi; the next, we’re collectively quiet, getting through by getting through. Crying is OK. So is praying. So is listening to Outkast’s entire body of work whilst dancing in one’s uglypants. And so is eating all the cereal.
I don’t know what to make of the news, the breadcrumbs of hope and the thunderclaps of chaos. Some nights I feel the ache of the entire world sitting on my chest, and I want to wrap my whole heart around all of us. I can’t; my arms are too short and my spirit too poor.
But then I remember what week it is.
We’ve just passed the most ponderous of Passovers, with Seders shared across Zoom and prayers spoken into speakerphones. Together and apart; bruised, but not without hope.
Now we look to Easter, devoid this year of egg hunts and church choirs and victorious hugs.
Or perhaps, we should not yet zoom to Easter.
We’re currently in what Christians call the Triduum, the most intense three days of the year. We must pass through confusion and death and the darkest hour of human history before we can celebrate Life invincible, the ultimate hope, the final word for all our aches.
I have it on good authority that the first Easter morning was even more confusing than ours will be. The folks involved did not immediately rise up singing, donning their flowered hats and paprika-ing the deviled eggs. They were bewildered with fear, hiding in their separate hollows, too hard-pressed to hope until hope hurled itself upon them.
First, the terror; then the triumph.
First, the Passion; then, the peace that passes all understanding.
I have never believed in the existence of “coincidences,” so I can’t help but gape at the way Triduum 2020 overlaps with what’s expected to be the worst of COVID-19 in the United States. People who are much smarter than me have pinpointed Sunday itself — Easter Sunday — as likely the single worst day to come.
The most deaths.
The most howling pain.
On Resurrection Day.
The Resurrection, as I understand it, does not promise that we will avoid the howling pain. It does not erase or prevent or lightning-bolt it into submission. We will still live and thrive and ache and die as people did before.
But death will never again have the last word. Its expiration date is guaranteed.
And between here and forever we will never, ever, ever, ever go unloved.
I’m speechless at such mystery, silenced by grace I don’t understand. All I know — and I know it more certainly than the nose on my face and the tails on my cats — is that we are not alone.
Not alone in our weeping.
Not alone in our shivering.
Not alone in our feelings of utter, roaring aloneness.
And not alone — the ultimate not-alone — in our rising.
There is much rising ahead of us, kittens. I don’t dream to imagine when, and it’s not for you or me or Gogi to know how. But make no mistake: there is a love stronger than death, so much so that death will die. Our weeping and our fears are not without meaning when we know they will — mysterium tremendum — be swallowed up in victory.
We will meet again.
We will hold each other again.
We will reach a place beyond tears and terror.
This Holy Week feels shot through with holes as we worship, or don’t, separately. But from the darkness of Good Friday comes a true dream grander than we can imagine.
Hold onto your cats and your trust and your belovedness, dear hearts. Our hope will not disappoint us.