Welcome. It’s Easter Sunday, and I’m glad you visited. We’ll be back tomorrow with more flash fiction, but today I wanted to set a different tone. I hope you enjoy it. This link takes you to the video if you are reading an email version of today’s blog. Below is the video. Beneath that is the text. Be blessed and thanks for stopping by.
Hector Ramirez had been enjoying the quarantine for the most part. A hard-working man since he was 12 years old, he was almost ready to retire when the contagion hit. His job was secure, and he was able to work from home.
Now, without a commute to his office each day, he was using that time to sleep until an hour before he had to fire up his computer and get busy. He didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone, his kids had all moved away years before, and his wife had died almost fifteen years before from cancer. The solitude, at least when his dog let him enjoy it, was comforting. Weekends were the best: no meetings, no lunch with his friends, no duties on overtime. He could sleep in and catch his church service on line – any church would do. His faith wasn’t aligned to a building, but a relationship with Christ he’d formed when he was in the Army years before. No atheists in foxholes applied to armored personnel carriers as well!
The quiet neighborhood was staunchly middle class, a little oasis of civility in the urban mess that he called home. That meant respect for each other, and quiet Sunday mornings were the rule – no lawnmowers before 10 and the kids kept quiet indoors until at least 9.
Easter Sunday was just another day in the lockdown until the bells started ringing. Hector rolled to his right, lifted the blinds, and looked out on a blindingly bright morning. The clock read 0859. He heard a sounding of bells coming from a distance. Given how soundly he slept, he guessed that the bells had been ringing for a while.
Now that he was up, he went through his morning routine – that did not vary even when he slept in – and shuffled down the stairs at 0930. His dog, Socks, was right at his heels as usual. He’d earned the name as a puppy when Hector kept kicking him with his heels – the dog didn’t get the concept of social distancing.
Once the coffee and toaster pastry had been consumed, he put the leash on Socks and headed out the door. The bells were still ringing. He went right, instead of his traditional left, and figured he’d check out the noise. Must be stuck on automatic, no way they’d ring the bells for over an hour.
When he rounded the corner to the street where the church was, he saw a crowd of people scattered up and down the block. Getting closer, he noticed they were all staring at their phones. He got about a block away, at the edge of the crowd, and could make out hastily painted banners on the sides of the church: LIVE STREAM AT 10:30 and a web address. In smaller print, it said, “Important announcement.”
At 10:30 the bells picked up tempo for one minute, falling completely silent on the mark.
Hector noticed that all of the dogs in the crowd, and there were several, lay down in the prone position as the screens of the assembled smart phones began to glow.
The stream opened with a single flickering altar candle, and pulled back to reveal the crucifix that towered over the altar. A voice began, “Good morning on this resurrection day. I am John, humble servant of the risen Messiah. I bring you a message of hope today.”
Twenty minutes later the broadcast ended, and the multitude of screens faded out with a chirp.
Hector looked around him. The dogs were still in place, and each person in the crowd was trying hard not to wipe away tears. Can’t touch your face. Well, he thought, the mask is taking care of absorbing them, so I guess I’ll be okay.
Turning to return home, he greeted each person he passed warmly. There was a new light. A new hope. A true resurrection in the faithful.
Years later historians would still talk about the miracle of that morning when the number of cases of COVID-19 dropped to single digits, and the spontaneous awakening, and removal from ventilators, of tens of thousands of patients.
The hope, and joy, of that day remained in Hector’s heart as he presented himself, many years later, to God. And when he arrived, the explanation left him with an eternal smile.
It was all about the cross. It always had been.