Today Christians around the world celebrate Easter, a word derived from aurora, the Latin word for “dawn,” and from an Old English word for “east,” from which the dawn arises. Easter celebrates a new way of wrapping our lives in hope. It is the dawn of hope.
Christians celebrate Easter at the same time all of us celebrate the return of spring, when darkness folds into light. Within the dark earth, hopeful seeds break forth from their dry husks and stretch upward, willy-nilly, to light. To a new way of being.
For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the season that begins on March 21 reaffirms that the waning of light and the entrance into darkness is part of each human’s journey to wholeness.
This past spring week, Jews observed their Passover, which commemorates the passing over of the Hebrew people from the prison of slavery in Egypt to the possibilities of new life beyond that land of desert and drought. For Christians, Easter commemorates Jesus’ Passover from one way of being to another.
Passover and Easter are inextricably linked. According to the Christian scriptures, Yeshua—Jesus’ Hebrew name—ate a final meal with his disciples. A Passover meal. He died on the day before the Sabbath. In his death he discovered the Fullness of Life—Oneness. God graced him with that new life on the first day of the Jewish week. A day of new beginnings.
Woven through all these seasons, traditions, and feasts is the idea of newness. The idea that we can pass from hatred of our human condition—with its loss and death, flaws and foibles, despair and sorrow—to a newness of spirit in which we embrace who we are.
And what do we embrace? Our messiness. The very thing that so many of us resist. Yet Easter proclaims that we can hope in the possibilities of ourselves. My 77th birthday is tomorrow. And still I’m in the trenches with the messiness of myself. I still have a hard time believing I am lovable. And yet out of that messiness comes, for me, an ability to show others how lovable they are. That messiness is me living with hope that one day I will embrace this loving and lovable me. And in that embrace will come the gift of peace. I will then be the Alleluia that Oneness proclaims.
What else do we embrace when we accept this gift of Easter? Passover? Spring? The answer is clear: we embrace our Oneness with every person who has ever lived. With Yeshua and with the serial killer and the homeless woman with her shopping cart, and the child with his Easter basket, and the widow with her grief.
All of us are “in” life together. We are united in our flawed humanity. By embracing the darkness and doubt within ourselves, we become the cherished human we long to be. And we begin to treasure the being of others.
Today then, I wish all of you growth in the human spirit whether as Christian or Jew or Muslim or as a nonbeliever whose belief lies in the hope of spring. I wish you wholeness as you strive to become fully human.
For myself, I believe that Yeshua was a human being who fully realized humanity within himself. He embraced the darkness and death that lies within each of us and passed over to an acceptance of the possibilities within himself. He donned Life.
Yeshua became compassion. He became graciousness. He became hope. He became life-giving. He became the poet of possibility. He became the one who saw Oneness every where, every time, every now, every here.
And that is what this season offers all of us.
So on this day of spring, this Easter for my Christian friends, this first day of the week for my Jewish brethren, this Sunday for you who celebrate each new dawning, I pray that life will spring forth within you and that you, filled with hope, will enter the Mystery that is the Holy Oneness of All Creation of which you and I and the cats who lie here on my computer desk are a part. Peace.
All the photographs are from Wikipedia.