I don’t have any personal traditions surrounding Easter. I probably ought to since it is part of my religious tradition, but somehow the ones I used to have were all focused on providing an experience for my children rather than me forming a personal connection with the holy day. So when the kids stopped caring about egg coloring and Easter egg hunts, we also stopped having lessons about Christ’s resurrection. The two probably shouldn’t have been intertwined, but somehow one triggered the other. The other thing that led to an ebb in household Easter traditions was that some of my kids have stepped away from my religious tradition. We’ve found a good family balance now where all the beliefs are given space without imposition, but it means that creating a family experience out of a religious symbolic holiday is not something we do anymore. Christmas still works because we can all engage with the more secular trappings equally, but Easter always had a lighter touch on our lives. (This is a cultural oddity since from a purely religious standpoint the importance and spiritual weight of Easter is far greater than that of Christmas. Christmas is the promise of a Savior to come, Easter is the culmination of the atoning work of a Savior.) All of which is to say that I’m in the middle of a holiday with no particular plans for marking the day.
I did listen to the General Conference for my church which is a semi-annual broadcast that happens the first weekend in April and October. Sometimes the spring conference coincides with Easter, which it did this year. So I got to hear multiple people speak about the holiday, its personal meaning to them, and its larger significance. I particularly appreciated that the church chose Easter Sunday as a day to lean into the multi-national aspects of my church. The vast majority of the speakers gave pre-recorded talks from their home countries. For most of them English was not their first language. I loved hearing different sounds given to familiar words, and I marveled at the courage necessary to give a speech to a global audience in a secondary language.
For me Easter is deeply connected with the Spring bulbs that are blooming. It is hope for things to grow and thrive even after they’ve died or gone dormant. It is a calmness of spirit that rings like a clear tone inside me when I pause to listen to it. It is knowing that when I reach out to the divine, I connect with a source of strength larger than what I can carry inside me. It is a thread of hope that I can someday hug my grandparents again even though they died years ago. And yes, it is also in specific stories about Jesus Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection. I’ve seen some of those stories scoffed or ridiculed on the internet today. Not in the gentle meme jokes that someone inside the community makes for fellow believers to laugh together (I’ve seen and laughed at some of these too,) but sharp jokes aimed at Christianity as a powerful giant to be speared and taken down. Christianity is indeed a large and clumsy giant with very large footprints. It is sometimes leveraged harmfully. Yet it is also a source of personal strength and guidance to many people, and careless attempts to spear the giant can wound people.
Today I am not wounded. In fact, I feel profoundly healed and whole. The other day I was having a conversation with one of my kids about how the pandemic quieted all the noise in their lives. It removed all the options for schooling, volunteering, expanding outward, and forced them to sit with themselves. In that quiet they gained identity that they had lacked before. In many ways pandemic did the same for me. Today as I sit with the feeling of Easter and try to connect with God, I feel grateful for the lessons of the past year, I feel hope for how far I can fly once I’m fully free of the pandemic cocoon. Easter is a story of suffering, betrayal, pain, death, entombment, transformation, and re-emergence. It feels very relevant and important to me this year.