EDITORIAL: Rebirth: Easter, spring can inspire renewal from trying times

We wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter. It’s a time that celebrates the Christian Savior’s resurrection from death, and the spirit of renewal that many of us enjoy at this time of year.

“Death and life have contended in that battle stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal,” the faithful who attend Easter services will hear in the scripture readings today.

The spirit of renewal extends beyond the chapel doors, however, especially after the past year, which has been filled with pain and challenges almost everyone has had to endure. Thousands of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and the pandemic has affected virtually everyone’s life, closing schools and businesses, forcing many of us to stay home and unable to visit friends and family members. We’ve spent an entire year burdened by the fear that at any moment, any one of us could fall victim to the deadly disease.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, many of us are still recovering from the hard February freeze that left thousands of people cold and powerless — literally, as power station failures led to electricity blackouts that extended for days in many areas.

But however recent those hardships are, the glorious signs of springtime are pushing them further back into the cloudy depths of our memory. Bulbs and blossoms are opening up and adding their bright colors to our landscape, even amid the remnants of other plants that might not have survived the freezes. We see more people out and about again after a year of virtual exile, now that most pandemic restrictions of public interactions have been lifted. Stores and restaurants are full again and, at least in these early days, many people don’t seem to mind so much if they have to wait for a table to become available.

Most promising, four weeks after those restrictions were lifted, COVID-19 infection and death rates haven’t spiked in the Rio Grande Valley as they have in some other parts of the country. People here seem to recognize that the risk of catching the virus remains, and most appear to be maintaining safety measures such as wearing face coverings and keeping close contact to a minimum.

To be sure, total recovery will take time. People are returning to work, but the loss of income has left many mired in debt that could take years to overcome. Students are returning to the classroom, though many are just now realizing how much they have fallen behind their peers, despite their efforts to learn in the virtual environment that was created after schools were shuttered.

And yet, the signs of renewal all around us could inspire us to renew ourselves, and make the extra effort to bring our lives back to normal as quickly as possible.

May these signs of rebirth — in nature, and in our daily and our spiritual lives — fill every one of us with a new sense of hope, a hope we might not have felt for awhile. To be sure, let us not fall to the dangers of recklessness and carelessness, but let the freshness of the spring season — the Easter season — fill us all with a sense that the worst is behind us, and a joy that will lighten the days ahead.