April 10, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Today is Good Friday. On this day in Jerusalem a little less than 2000 years ago, Jesus was hung up on a cross between two thieves, having been sentenced to death by Pilate, the Roman governor overseeing the Roman province of Judea. Crucifixion was reserved for non-citizens who’d committed one of three crimes: running away from slavery, piracy and sedition (advocating the overthrow of Roman rule). Because Jesus was not a slave or a pirate, it appears he was killed for being a political rebel.

Christians call today, without irony, Good Friday. If I were an etymologist, instead of a formerly homeless drunk with access to writing materials, I’d explain how the day of Jesus’ execution came to be called good. If I were an entomologist, I’d discuss the bugs that might have been found on the trees used for the wood in the cross. Alas, I am neither, nor am I a believing Christian.

I don’t think Peter, James, Andrew and the rest of Jesus’ posse saw Good Friday as good. They saw it as devastating. After all, they’d been riding with Jesus up and down Israel for the last three years, and although the Bible shows Jesus offering them a series of hints about his destiny, none of the disciples seems to have been insightful. Don’t forget, it was just the night before Peter, Jesus’ “Rock,” had denied even knowing the man. No, the disciples didn’t see anything good that afternoon.

It was Friday.

But Sunday was coming.

If the disciples had been listening to the man they called Lord, they would have heard him predict his death. And his resurrection, which Christians believe is the culmination of the single most important fact of human history—that God became human and walked among us for 33 years. Then, according to the Bible, we killed him, but he came back to life and was eventually taken bodily into heaven. It’s a lot to swallow, but billions of humans believe and have believed it.

Today is another Friday. With more than 10,000 Americans dead so far of confirmed Coronavirus, it’s easy to lose faith—in our leaders, in our country, in faith itself. It seems natural to cuddle up with despair or, for alcoholics or addicts, a drink or a drug. If you’ve been working hard at staying clean, cleaning house and becoming the sort of person your mom wanted you to be, it’s only human to throw in the towel in crisis, just as the disciples likely did.

I’m not here to tell you anyone is going to come back from the dead, but I will say things are going to get better, even if they get worse first. Life finds a way to live, and this pandemic isn’t going to stop that. I don’t believe in any particular religion, but I do know that for every Friday humanity’s ever lived through, there’s always been a Sunday coming.

(As a bonus paragraph for other old people like me, the choice can be summed up by two songs from my childhood, one by the Five Stairsteps and the other by Barry McGuire. I will always, always, ALWAYS take Oooh Child over Eve of Destruction. Things ARE going to get easier and I don’t believe destruction is on its way.)

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Best,

Keith