Can you reflect a bit on the differences between Easter this year and last year?
Dr Calivas: Oh, Easter was very different last year, most of it done by livestream. This year, although attendance is muted according to the requirements of each state and local community, nonetheless more people are allowed to attend services, and be seated properly and safely. Personally, I find that much more joyful! And the people I speak with are so overjoyed. Last year was terrible, and felt like a persecution. Now we are getting people back into church. We are social beings. We want to be in person somewhere—not on a TV screen.
Do you think we are extra grateful this year at Eastertide?
Dr Calivas: Sometimes we don’t appreciate something until we don’t have it. For, me being able to gather with my children and grandchildren brings my great joy. But not all the children are inoculated. The fear still is there. But a number of priests have been telling me they are so overjoyed at seeing a congregation after holding services in an empty church.
How does this resonate for you as we all receive the message of the Resurrection?
Dr Calivas: The message of the Resurrection is always there regardless of circumstance. Christ is risen! That rings loudly and always with hope, with change, with transformation, with possibilities. When you are just walking around, and we are all masked, that has become part of our lives—yet we’re not normal. But there is always that hope. And I mean hope, not just optimism. Hope is based on a truth, on a fact. Optimism will make you feel good for a bit, but Christ’s suffering, being buried and rising—that is different! That is certain hope. Being 88 years old, going on 89, I think about hope a lot.
How can we let go of our fear and anxiety to find this hope?
Dr Calivas: Through the difficulties of life, hope is what the resurrection always gives us. Of course the resurrection is preceded by death. But the resurrection has freed us from this fear, from this ultimate enemy.
Why is ecumenism important in steering us toward collective hope?
Dr Calivas: Because we share the same gospel, and maybe our insights are different, but if we seek one another in love, the distances are not so great. That’s why every effort in seeking Christian unity, and every discussion of our faith is so essential. That’s why the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission is so important! Our God is not a small God—yet sometimes we seem to limit our God. We need to have a common witness in the world. From the beginning, God said the world is gift to us—this immense universe that human beings are still discovering.