Today it occured to me that Easter is a perfect holiday for a pandemic.
It’s not lost on us that right now much of the world, increasingly including Mexico, is living in a kind of purgatory between times. The world as we know it has gone, and with it many plans for the future, our feelings of safe knowledge of how things will be, our jobs, our illusions of security and good health…all gone with the virus. We drift around in a shadowy nether world that is neither here nor there, not knowing what will be and longing for what was. The days can feel dark indeed, and the nights long and filled with fretful sleeplessness as we worry and worry about what the future holds.
If we let ourselves, we can begin feeling hopeless. These most difficult times are when hope is the very most important feeling we can have.
And that’s why I love Easter. Whether you are a Christian or not doesn’t matter when it comes to a story of a man rising up from the dead to live again; a man who was entombed behind rock; his life finished; over with, who came back to life. It’s not necessary to be a biblical literalist when you think of this story. If you get lost in whether this story is literally true you miss the entire point. That point is, in a nutshell, that new life comes from death and that even when faced with our darkest moments, we should cling as strongly to our hope for the future as the limpet clings to the rocks in a stormy sea. We should live in the firm knowlege that we shall rise again.
Through this, and many other archetypal stories that reflect the tapestry of human experience, we learn that only through death can life be renewed. In order for great changes to take place, something must give way, must die. A new phoenix arises from the ashes of its own death. A lotus blooms from the rotten vegetation, dead on the bottom of the pond. People survive debilitating illness only to reinvent their lives and find new meaning in them. Life after death is a pattern that fills our known universe. The metaphors are limitless.
Long before Christianity people celebrated the renewal of life in the spring, the fecundity of animals, the fertility of fields; the beginnings of a new year. Spring filled people with hope after a long, dark, cold winter where the earth looked all but dead. The pagans saw what looked like dead landscapes, cold and dark, the sun low in the sky for months as though it could desert them forever. And then, at the equinox of spring, the earth began to warm. Color returned. Plants broke through the soil. The whole earth has arisen from what looks like certain death, a process every gardener still celebrates. A rebirth is certainly worth celebrating, even as we suffer through the process of change.
And so it will be with us. As a people we walk in fear through the valley of our own shadow of death right now; our own dark domain. And yet the story of Easter gives us hope and we should take it and hold onto it firmly; never letting it go. We should see the light that is present on the other side of this netherworld that is neither here nor there; this time of waiting. And we should wait hopefully and expectantly.
May all the blessings of the earth and spirit be yours this Easter. May you suffer with grace. May you have patience, forgiveness, and compassion for yourself and others. May you keep this historic time in perspective as you walk most tenderly through your own netherworld. May you do good in the world, because it needs goodness. And most of all, may you be overcome with a peace that passes your understanding and claim it for your own.