A lamentation for churches closed at Easter by the coronavirus pandemic
The ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was last closed during the Black Plague of the 1300s. Then came the coronavirus pandemic.
And now a video circulates across social media of the caretaker, a Muslim man whose family, it is said, has reverently tended this holiest of all Christian churches since the 1100s.
The caretaker closes the doors. The heavy bolts fall into place, sounding like a hammer thudding on the hearts of the Christian world just before Easter.
Coronavirus is most certainly not the Black Death. But the doors of churches are closed just the same.
This is Holy Week for Western Christians. The Eastern Orthodox celebrate Easter on April 19. But the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is shared by all Christians. And the closing of churches all over the world, of the East and of the West, couldn't come at a worse possible time.
Other faiths have seen their houses of worship closed, too, Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques and others, as part of the fight against the transmission of the deadly virus through social gathering.
Human beings ache for what we've been denied, like the diabetic yearning for chocolate soda. We're stubborn and willful that way. For some, the church doors closing isn't all that important. They put their faith in other things.
But for many others, for Christians at Easter, what's been lost is more powerful and meaningful than ever. And this, too, is the story of the pandemic, but it is a story largely untold.
Wasn't it just weeks ago that we thought we had everything?
We carried our phones in our pockets, and at the touch of a button we could pull forth the sum of all human knowledge. The economy was thrumming, there was money in our wallets, employers were desperate to find workers, and almost anyone who wanted to work could find a job.