As a little girl, each year Granny and Pop would outfit me for Easter with a new dress, a hat, gloves, fancy socks and a pair of patent leather shoes. Sometimes I also had a small purse. On Easter Sunday, I accompanied them to church in my finery to hear the Resurrection story. And in time I learned that the new clothes were a symbolic of new life and rebirth, in both Christ and spring.

The Easter Rabbit would deliver baskets with candy and other treats and we usually feasted on a ham dinner with all the trimmings.

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays, a joyous celebration after the Lenten season.

This year, COVID-19 put a pall over Lent. Before I took time for Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings or for a meal at church it became prudent to close churches.

This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, was strange. There were no palms of victory, no march into journey commemorating Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Although I could and did watch the service as it was live streamed, it's just not the same. From home, I am unable to participate in Holy Communion and that leaves me sad.

Holy Week this year is virtual including Easter and that will be both sad and strange. Yet, in my heart I know that I must still celebrate Easter and will.

These weeks I've spent working from home seem much longer than they are. My world has shrunk to the four walls of my home and my trips venturing into the world have been limited to necessities. I practiced social distancing and although I know many chafe at Governor Parson's stay at home edict, I think it's wise. The spread of this virus must be halted. It has already caused death, illness, and economic repercussions in Neosho, in Missouri, across the nation and around the world. The world emerging after this ends will be changed in ways I can't yet fully imagine.

These are troubled times and I wish that my husband could be at my side to guide me through this. He had a way of keeping me calm and grounded, often through faith. As I struggled to decide what to write in this week's column, I came across one of Roy's favorite scriptures. It brings me comfort and hope, from my late husband and from our Lord.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." A newer translation reads "for a future and a hope."

So, as Easter approaches, my husband's favorite Scripture touches me and so I trust in peace and not evil, even in these difficult days. May the peace of the Lord be with you always - especially at Easter and beyond.

-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author and freelance writer.