I will start this off by saying I am not Jewish; I've never really celebrated Passover. I grew up as a Methodist, so my springtime holiday has always been Easter. But I've always had some fascination with the holiday--after all, Christians also love the story of the Exodus, and the Passover meal itself is the famous Last Supper of the Easter story. And this year, I find myself having a lot of Thoughts about it.
We're all experiencing Passover this year.
We are cleaning our houses obsessively, determined to rid them of any speck of the wrong microorganism that we might ingest by accident.
We are doing a lot of things differently, in ways that would seem like a ritual to those not in the know. Why is this year different from all other years? Why, this year, do we wash everything, even the canned food, as soon as we bring it home from the store? Why, this year, is Mommy working at home and not at her office? Why, this year, are we not going to school? Why, this year, does no one stand close to anyone else? The children hardly need to ask these questions anymore, because we've told them already--right after reminding them to wash their hands again.
We suffer under obstinate heads of state who would rather invite any number of plagues than admit that they were wrong.
And we paint the doorknobs of our houses--and everything inside, if we can manage it--with disinfectant, hoping that, like lamb's blood, it might cause the Angel of Death to stop at the door, and turn away, and leave us be. That angel is out there, striking down anyone it wishes: the guilty, the complicit, the truly innocent...starting with the eldest.
Someday in the hopefully-not-too-far future, the freedom to associate with each other again will feel like a great blessing. Maybe our spring-cleaning traditions should add a few extra steps so that years later, when our children ask us why, we can tell the story of when the ritual was a necessity, so that we appreciate that freedom all the better.