Easter Sunday is way funner than everything that leads up to it.
In fact sometimes I like the Easter Bunny quite a lot more than Jesus.
Old as I am, I still love playing and pretending. It’s fun to dye eggs with onion skins and hide candies. At Easter time I get to hold warm little bodies on my lap and read happy stories about rabbits and fuzzy yellow chicks.
It’s spring in my house and my fireplace mantle display is an art installation I change with the seasons. Right now it holds pink tulips, purple hyacinths (surprise gifts), a lovely calligraphy of Christ’s prayer that his torturers be forgiven, a carved abstract crucifix and a gorgeous rock from the Blaeberry River in the Rockies. It’s all very picturesque, especially if I ignore the fact that it’s like decorating a model of an electric chair or a gas chamber with party balloons.
What are we supposed to do with an Easter story about torture and a gruesome execution? For goodness’ sake don’t tell the children! Oh, never mind, the hero comes back to life so we can all live happily ever after. Sing the Hallelujah chorus again and feel the chills run up your spine. Pretend Jesus fixed everything. Way funner.
If only that colleague hadn’t sent me an angry, critical email last week; my stomach is still churning. If only a neighbour’s husband hadn’t died this week leaving her with four children under four (yes, she has 3 mo. old twins). If only a friend’s daughter hadn’t just been half strangled by her boyfriend. If only I didn’t keep making the mistake of watching the news, damn it.
Unlike the saints, my true priority is to feel calm and comfy, seizing every chance to laugh and have fun on this adventure playground of planet earth. If I had any choice I would ignore even God if I could just figure out how to feel good without Her. Somebody gimme some blinders! But every escape route, all the addictions, compulsions and distractions turn out to be false promises of avoiding real life (believe me, I’ve tried).
My memory is stuffed with crazy random songs that insist on providing a sound track for my inner world. As I write this, they’re trying to drown out my Easter angst by singing, “Look on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, look on the sunny side of life”. Call it cognitive behavioural modification or call it denial, at the moment those songsters need to shut up.
A wiser chorus now- they’re singing a line from another dorky old piece called “Love and Marriage”. Song title aside, the pertinent line for me is this:
“You can’t have one, you can’t have one,
you can’t have one without the uh-uh-uh-ther.”
Okay, almost nobody believes that about love and marriage any more, but back to my point.
At birth we arrive to a life of endless contrasts and paradox and it’s not always that much fun. To be fair, I admit that each of the ugly experiences above have been accompanied by awesome appearances of courage, persistent faith and selfless love. Either way, you can’t have one without…
Kicking and screaming, I drag myself back to the reason I celebrate the Christian version of Easter. Christians worship one who let himself be betrayed, spat on, beaten and finally murdered ... so, back to the reason this Friday is called “good”. I follow in the steps of ancient desert nomads, prostitutes and cheaters who saw in God their only chance of overcoming life’s ugly side. Like the lepers, the blind and the limping, like the tired and frightened disciples, I lie in the dust at God’s merciful feet, hoping beyond hope that there’s reason to hope.
Millions before me have trusted that Christ’s resurrection promise was part of a true story that hasn’t ended yet. Dear God, failing the option of blinders, would you give me clearer vision?
"Altogether now, 1, 2, 3,
"Altogether now, 1, 2, 3,
Ha-llelujah! Ha-llelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Ha-lle-ey-lujah!..."