It can be a little tricky to balance expectations around the big Christian holidays. It’s not that our community as a whole gets terribly hung up around it, but I know it’s a thing for some of us, and so I often wonder about the best approach.
Sometimes it seems like I should go full-out and all-in with Easter and Passover, honoring the sacred traditions while giving them an inclusive metaphysical spin. (And also try to do so in a way that hasn’t been done a thousand times before). Other years, I think maybe I’ll just ignore it completely, because I know that some people find any mention of Jesus irksome, and because like I said it’s hard to come up with anything original. Usually, I lean pretty heavily on the secular and pagan symbolism around the season — bunnies, springtime, peeps, jellybeans, eggs…
Here’s my favorite Easter card:
The fact is, I kinda love it all. I find all the trappings of Easter to be pretty great: fluffy baby animals, candy, flowers, everything in gentle pastels. The weather this time of year, albeit up and down, overall feels hopeful and anticipatory; even the godawful wind is blowing-in change, buds and newness. And the story of Jesus through Holy Week — talk about up and down! — is deeply touching and inspiring to me.
In the small-town Methodist church in which I grew up, we did a beautifully somber Good Friday evening service, performing a mini-pageant that my mother wrote. I always got a juicy, guilt-ridden monologue as Peter the Denier. I chewed up the scenery, believe me. And then three days later I’d play the trumpet along with the rousing hymns of Easter Sunday. It was a thrilling rollercoaster of self-expression, fervor, and starring roles!
I’m really drawn to the emotional complexity of it, the mixed feelings. Paradox and contradiction, most of the time, feel more complete and honest to me than any one note, and Easter seems to invite that ambivalence. As Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, in Steel Magnolias says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” So I really groove with the gamut of feelings running through Christianity this week — hope, strength, injustice, speaking truth to power, betrayal, suffering, death, doubt, grief, all wrapped up with a triumphant happy ending. It’s the entire range of human experience, and nothing satisfies like redemption.
It includes both our darkest nights and the glorious light of our clear, blue mornings (that’s another nod to Queen Dolly), and everything in between. Endings and beginnings, death and eternal life, renewal, recovery, rebirth — the whole enchilada.
It reminds me of a story I shared once before, quite a few years ago: “The Egg,” by science fiction writer, Andy Weir. The piece is not very long, so I might include it in its entirety as my talk this week, if I don’t have too much else to say. For here, I’ll just try to summarize the main thrust of it:
Someone has died. The someone is “You,” actually (the story is told as if you are the main character). You’ve died and landed in this empty, in-between sort of place where you have a conversation with a being who identifies as “God.” God is a nondescript figure who answers all your questions. God reveals that you have lived and will live multiple lifetimes, that ultimately you will live every life there is to live. You will be or have been every single person in the world — and everybody in the world is, in fact, you. The point of existence in this physical universe is to experience it all, express it all, literally every aspect of it from every different angle, because it’s all for you. And when you’re done, you will “hatch” from this egg of a Universe, and grow into God yourself.
That’s sort of Jesus-y — a metaphysical metaphorical Jesus, in which he’s us; we’re the Christ. It’s also a nice tie-in with the reincarnation from Eastern faith traditions, a bit of Kabbalah, definitely some Tao…
I’m not suggesting it as a belief system. But I do like it a lot. And it feels about as accurate and complete as any other ideas about death and life.
Stories like this that dissolve the concept of linear time can crack open a fresh perspectives on things. Because Time can really mess with our heads; it does a number on us, especially the aging and death parts of it. But if we can shake ourselves out of some of that, and remember that Life and Eternal Life are the same thing, that Eternal Life isn’t something that happens after we die, but rather something that we’re in the midst of right now, that we always have been and always will be… Well, for me anyway, that seems to offer a little breathing room in which to enjoy it.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Yes.
I also dig the ever-cycling beginnings and endings of It All in this story. That’s a pretty solid message for Easter, too, right? The unbroken circle of life after life after life… There’s something in it that speaks to the idea that we’re already complete and whole with everything that’s come before, and also perpetually just beginning everything yet to be. We’re always both full masters of our lives up to this point, and also empty vessels prepared for what’s yet to come. We are the wise sage embodiments of actualized experience, and at the same time, toddlers taking our first steps into the infinite possibility before us.
We’re egg-traoridnary egg-sperts egg-stracting egg-sperience egg-spressing egg-sistence. How’s that!?
Join me online this weekend for message and music at BOSQUECSL.ORG and VIMEO.COM/BOSQUECSL. New content posted every Saturday at 6:00 pm, and available forever after for your convenience. Happy Springtime, loved ones. XO, Drew
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