What is Easter? Never think about it at home the way I should (I can’t lump Judy into this) but I know how I feel during Easter. There is some sort of modest sacrifice if something is given up for Lent. I think that is a good exercise as it requires at least some discipline that sometimes can lead to permanent change. But it is not like sacrificing your life. It is symbolic. Good Friday is so solemn and I confess that much of the music is beautiful and compelling and, for us choir types, a chance to sing in some wonderful harmonies. And Easter Sunday is a happy day if it is celebrated the way it should be, as a door opening to spring, a breath of fresh air.
So far from home, as at Christmas, how could we find Easter here in Egypt? Especially in these times in which there seems to be no end of terrible news. I just snuck a peek at the Guardian website and learned that an AirEgypt plane headed from our home city of Alexandria to Cairo was high jacked and has landed in Cyprus. And Belgium. And Lahore. And on and on. But there are moments… and we were lucky enough to find some of them this past weekend. Sometimes a combination of technology and real live people works wonders.
Good Friday did not seem quite right. So I turned to YouTube and found some music; first some Good Friday gospel from the Gaithers. They are an institution in the southern US and, although some of our friends kind of roll their eyes when we say we like the Gaither Gospel Hour (are you reading this Joan Heard?), some of them are amazing and very powerful singers. There were a couple of nice renditions of Ave Verum Corpus on YouTube as well. Mozart is good for the soul.
There was some question about whether we would have anyone at the scheduled Easter Sunday service and it was cancelled, briefly, but then revived. It came back to life. Appropriately. Our friend from school Bethany Vance came with us and it was a full service with a congregation of twenty, a good number. Hymns, an interesting sermon from Dean Sammy, the Egyptian priest, and a chance to meet some new people at coffee after the service.
Later we went for a long slow lunch with David Thomas and his friends Rebecca and Tim at the Egyptian Seamen’s Club which I described at Christmas. It is like stepping back in time. Rebecca had a bottle of wine in her purse which she asked our elderly Egyptian waiter to open. Twenty minutes later he came trotting in from the street with the cork loosened. He hadn’t known how to open it so off he went to who knows where to solve the mystery.
But the day was capped really with FaceTiming with Mary and Brad and Skyping first with Jonathan, Ashley and Sawyer and later Tommy and Lilly in Toronto. Poor little Sawyer fell asleep within seconds because she was sick and started snoring to beat the band. After Abe the Dog started barking, we all finally surrendered and said our goodbyes. It was a good day for us.