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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter


When I was a child Easter always came in conjunction with a week off from school; Spring Break we called it, and still do.

Spring Break always came with Eastertide, but in the public schools we were not allowed to call it Easter Break, we could not do this on account on account of the separation between church and state.

I am not sure when it happened, but at some point those conventions began to change, school boards stopped planning the spring break to coincide with the Christian holiday.

Perhaps this was due to a sensitivity to such constitutionally required separations, or maybe it was just because the Easter festivities follow an erratic cycle. It defies the regularity of our solar calendar.

Easter, like Passover, follows Selene, the wandering Titaness, the silvery-moon.

Sometimes Easter comes as late as my birthday, April 22nd, Earth Day, other times it is as early as my sister Raney’s birthday, March 28th. In those years, when we were growing up we were able to experience the sense of being overlooked that other kids feel whose birthdays fall on holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving or Halloween.

In one sense Easter is about the palette of pastels, the donning of spring garments, the greening lawns and budding trees. It is about hard-boiled eggs died with bright colors and hidden around the house, and it is about jelly beans, chocolates and other candies.

There is an Easter feast, ham being the most common thing on the Easter table.

For many people Easter has little to do with the commemoration of the risen Christ, which is at the root of the holiday. Jesus, the new lawgiver leading the people to a new promised land in a new Passover.

When we were young we would always watch the Cecil B. De Mill epic, The Ten Commandments, featuring Charleton Heston as Moses, leading the people from bondage.

It was a tradition that more clearly connected the Christian holiday to its Jewish roots than any sermon I ever heard in church.

My family rarely went to church on Easter, we hardly ever went to church at all.

For many folks, Easter marks the equinox, a celebration of the change in the arc of the sun, the angle of light, the change from the dark days of winter, to the brightening of the day. Whereas at solstice in winter we celebrate the lengthening of the day and the light’s return, at the equinox in spring we celebrate the rising of the increased warmth of the sun and the thawing of the fields.

Easter and the equinox are slightly out of step, but the spring ritual is the same nevertheless.

The Christian tradition is a celebration of the risen Christ, it is a celebration of the power of life over death, and the expectation of summer, the season of planting and of hope for the future.

This Easter came late in the year, falling on the day before my birthday.

This is was marred by religious violence in Sri Lanka, more than two hundred Christians killed in bombings across that country, the bombers targeted churches.

This Easter we were witness to the destruction of one of the world’s great cathedrals, Notre Dame in Paris.

This Easter, as with every Easter since the murder of Jesus, there are causes to mourn the terrible state of humanity, and reason to hope for its betterment.

It is a day that we can ask ourselves how best we can return to life? How can we be restored in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, and how we can share that hope with the world. 

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