What Easter Can Teach Us About Hope
In the Time of COVID-19

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

Today is Day 81 since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US on January 22nd. There are now over 500,000 documented cases of coronavirus infection and over 20,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Last week many Americans celebrated Passover and Easter. Each of these important religious holidays is about hope. However, many Americans find hope to be in short supply at this time. They ask, “How do we find hope at Easter when people face the possibility of illness or death during the coronavirus pandemic, followed by an uncertain future?”

The doors of my  Episcopal church, Church of the Heavenly Rest at 90th Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, are shuttered for the first time in its long history. Our members celebrated Easter yesterday through the miracle of streaming media. The music was glorious and the readings from the Old and New Testament were familiar. The Easter message this year acknowledged the tragedies of this time in the context of our beliefs. The rector reminded us, in the words of Jeremiah from the Old Testament to “find grace in the wilderness.”  

We are certainly in the depths of the wilderness. Yet, we are learning to find hope in COVID-19 numbers that are no longer rising in New York because of the careful practice of public health recommendations. We find hope in the knowledge that scientists, epidemiologists and public health experts are working across the globe and around the clock to find treatment solutions and a vaccine. We find hope in the knowledge that our healthcare workers on the frontlines are caring for those who are gravely ill with COVID-19 and are learning and sharing new information about this virus and illness, in almost real time, with colleagues around the world. 

This is the time that Americans have an opportunity to address the problems of the homeless, the problems of overcrowded prisons, the problems of those living in poverty and near poverty. If we do not pay attention now to marginalized Americans, then our public health plan to control the spread of this infection may fail, and when contained, will be more likely to recur. These Americans have little ability to practice social distancing, to perform hand hygiene or wear a mask, as prescribed by public health experts. It is, therefore, both in our personal self interest and the nation’s interest to create safer living conditions for everyone so that mitigation of this virus can be successful. 

We also have the opportunity to examine our American pride in individualism where the interests of one outway those of the many. In this time, we can best survive and eventually thrive, when we put the interests of our community, country and the world first. 

In this Easter season in the time of COVID-19, we must continue to “find grace in the wilderness,” and do our part to create a better future for all.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.