This weekend means different things to different people. A religious holiday that celebrates death, resurrection, sacrifice, and salvation. A bunny that hops around, laying eggs in strange places, and a scavenger hunt. Copious amounts of chocolate, a dinner with the family, and a few days off work. Different strokes for different folks. Whatever tickles your fancy, fancies your tickle.
Wow, that sounds inappropriate. Should I apologize? Nah.
This year, the year of global disasters, everything is different and there’s a heaviness hanging in the air. I don’t feel like celebrating because, honestly, there doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if you’re all about the Easter Bunny or the salvation of man through the blood of Christ…Hold up a second!
Do we celebrate the blood spilling or honour it? I feel like people say celebrate but it’s so morbid. Yes, the outcome is desirable and honourable. If you’re a Christian, or have been around one, then you know the story. God sends his son, Jesus, to earth and Jesus grows up to be a teacher, a prophet, and a healer. His destiny, however, is to die on the cross next to two criminals. His death, followed by his resurrection, is a means to a pure end. An end where sins are forgiven and life can continue beyond this world, this mortal coil.
Party on bro! Pass a chocolate bunny and the disinfectant.
Am I the only one that gets a little weirded out by this “celebration” situation? Easter is a celebration of an act that involved a lot of pain and suffering. It’s about death, resurrection too, and the whole thing feels kinda icky if I look at it too closely. Again, it could just be me. I’m feeling a little pensive.
For Christians, we’re remembering, celebrating, honouring…what is the right word? Reliving? No…This weekend is about a moment of incredible suffering. An innocent man died a slow, horrific, death. His mother, siblings, and friends watched as he bled from wounds that were cruel and, for lack of a better word, ungodly. Again, the outcome is hope and salvation. God knows we all need some salvation and a little more hope after the lives we’ve lived. But celebrating pain, suffering, and death even with a positive outcome?
It’s weird, right?
I don’t go to church anymore, but I do consider myself, if labels are necessary, a Christian. Even when I was an avid churchgoer and a subscriber of dogma; this concept struck me as bizarre and macabre. A man, who also happens to be the Son of God, is arrested on trumped-up charges because a group of rich and powerful men were jealous of his growing popularity. He was healing the sick, raising the dead, and comforting the poor, broken, and outcast. How dare he do that without prior, written, approval? He also called wicked religious leaders out on their crooked ways so, obviously, he had to go. They paid witnesses to lie and then paid one of his friends to set him up. They arrested him, went through a mock trial, sentenced him to die in one the most gruesome ways possible, and then made a show of it.
If you think Game of Thrones was too gruesome? Dude.
Just when I think people can’t surprise me, they go ahead find new ways to be horrible. We’re a messed-up species and we haven’t evolved that much over the centuries. Good thing this story ends with this innocent man rising from the dead and going back to heaven. We’re so messed up that someone had to suffer and die to clean up after us. There’s that happy ending for ya!
I love a happy ending. It makes me feel warm and tingly but not in an inappropriate way.
Going to church over Easter is, to me, surreal. Everyone is dressed up extra fancy. There are a lot of floral prints and pretty pastels. Sweet treats are handed to children, and adults steal their fair share chocolates. Smiling faces. Happy songs. We celebrate death as joyfully as we celebrate the resurrection and the easter bunny. But there was so much pain!
Despite the outcome, can you imagine being his mother? She watched her son being held down while nails were driven through flesh and bone. She watched her son be beaten and tortured. She watched him take his last breath. Then she watched helplessly as they buried his body and rolled a stone in front of his tomb.
That’s the part that got to me the most. This image of a woman, standing alone, by her child’s grave is heartbreaking. I’m supposed to celebrate that? It feels wrong and heartless. I’m not a mother, but I’ve stood beside small graves and watched tiny coffins being lowered into the ground. I’ve seen the grief of a parent after such a monumental loss, and it’s more than a broken heart. It’s a broken spirit. It’s a broken body. It’s a grief that’s completely crippling. It’s a grief unlike any I’ve personally felt or witnessed since.
Celebrate the death and resurrection of this woman’s son? After he came back from the dead, Jesus still left her and went away. No letters. No email. Did he call her through prayer? “Hey Ma, how’s it going? Heaven’s pretty great. No one’s trying to kill me here so, you know, that’s nice.”
She lost her son twice and I wonder how she felt about that? Did she grieve twice? A mother, crying after her son, isn’t an image I feel like celebrating.
Granted, this is purely an exercise in semantics and I’m not even sure where I’m going with this. This isn’t what I set out to write which seems to be a theme lately. I’m caught up on the meaning of a single word and blocking out the rest. Those other words that make up a very large story and a very powerful one too.
It’s those complexities of the larger story that have me thinking about the oversimplification of this one word. We celebrate Easter and that act celebration has, in some respects, taken over for the meaning of what happened. We’ve created a festival atmosphere around an act of selflessness and sacrifice. We’ve revived a show that should never have been granted a public viewing. In some cases, we cheer on the crucifixion and forget the very real impact it had on very real people.
I’m not suggesting we forgo traditions and drape ourselves in black rags. We don’t have to beat our chests, fall to our knees, a wail in despair. Don’t throw out the sweet treats and go on a four day fast. That Bunny’s got to provide for his family too! I don’t think we need to grieve at all because, let’s not forget, this story has a happy ending.
As a thought exercise, I’m simply asking if we’re missing something? Are we too far removed from that moment to really appreciate it? Did our attention shift over the last few centuries? If it did, maybe we need to refocus our attention? Especially this year.
This year has been a beast and we’re only four months in. Normally, when normal existed, we’d have dinner with our families. Some of you might go to church. There’s an Easter egg hunt in the park and then we’d get a photo with the Easter Bunny. There are family, and religious, traditions that go back generations. Families look forward to them every year but this year?
This year isn’t a normal year and we can’t do things the normal way. I know some people are going to disregard the public health warnings. There will be ill-advised church services and family dinners. People are still traveling despite the dangers. There’s a lot of anger, in my area, because parks have been closed and the Easter Bunny isn’t sitting for photos. It’s hard to accept that things have changed but this disregard will put peoples lives at risk. Please stay home if you can.
Easter, if we look a little closer, isn’t about a church service, dinner with the family, or a photo op. It’s about taking a moment to appreciate the courage it took to lay down a life for others. It’s taking a second to appreciate the strength, the helplessness, of a mother who stood there and watch her child, her baby boy, die a brutal death. It’s appreciating the miracle of resurrection and the hope it gives us. This appreciation can be expressed anywhere and in many different ways. Church is one way but it doesn’t have to be the only way so again, stay home if you can.
Nailing the point home a little hard? Apologies…Not really sorry.
Easter is time for a renewal of hope which, for me, is coming at an appropriate time. With everything going on, it feels like there’s not enough hope to go around but if there’s hope in death then there can be hope in life. Our lives have stopped. Our futures look bleak. We’re asked to make sacrifices, so we can save the lives of strangers. We ask how long and no one knows and hope becomes harder to hold onto but it is there. This season, this holiday, we look at the life, death, and resurrection of a man who gave up everything so we could live and we will live. Life goes on, despite the hardships and suffering. There is hope in the renewal, the revival, of life so look for the hope wrapped up in a decorated egg.
Easter, especially this year, might not be the time to “celebrate” in the traditional sense, but it’s a time for gratitude. Imagine being so loved, so cherished, that someone was willing to die for you? My brother gave me his kidney, so I have a small idea of what it feels like to be loved that much. Having someone risk their life so I could get a chance to live my life? Gratitude doesn’t even being to encompass the enormity of that sacrifice and gift.
Over the next few days, instead of going out, let’s spend some time figuring out what we’re grateful for and not what we’ve given up. We’ve all given up so much over the last month and I’m sure we’re going to be asked to give up more. That’s so overwhelming but now, for this moment, can we be grateful for what we have been given? Life. Love. The kind of love that isn’t expressed with words but actions. We can express our gratitude and love for each other. Maybe not in person but love can be felt from a distance. That’s something to be thankful for right there.
If being chronically ill has taught me one thing? There’s always something to be grateful for even in the darkest of places. We can be thankful for the bed we lay on and the medicine we’re being given. We can be grateful for the home we’re in because how hard would it be to live without a safe space right now? We can be thankful for the computer, or phone, that connects us to our families, friends, and communities. We can stand on our balconies, at our front doors, and bang pots to say thank you to everyone working so hard to keep us going.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! If you work in the medical field, grocery store, or any one of the essential services: THANK YOU! With all my heart, I can’t say thank you enough.
Easter may be a story of sacrifice, death, and resurrection but it’s so much more than that. It’s about courage and strength. It’s about love. It’s our chance to stop, be still, and be grateful for the miracles in our lives. They may be hard to find but they’re there if we look hard enough. Maybe we finally have enough time to go looking?
Or all of this is bullsh!t and you just want the Easter Bunny to bring you some more chocolate. Good news! The government declared the Bunny an essential service. At least we can be grateful for his service and his sweet treats.
If you get a chocolate bunny, do you eat the head or the tail first? Both feel so wrong. Deliciously wrong.
Happy Easter friends! Regardless of what this weekend means to you: Be safe. Be well. Stay home.
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For reliable, up to date, information about COVID-19 pandemic please check out these sites:
- The World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019)
- The Centre for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html)
- The Public Health Agency (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html)