For a lot of families Easter is not complicated at all. It is a faithful celebration filled with family and meaning. It is a time for reflection and renewal, spiritual delight, and traditions. When I was a child I had sweet and simple Easters. Mother and I often went to church and I always had a lovely basket. When we lived closer to my Grandparents we joined them for Easter lunch.
All of this changed when I was in the 6th grade.
Easter is a moveable feast and that year the dates of the holiday unfolded so that the friday before Easter, also called Good Friday, was on April 1st. On that day my mother’s oldest brother was leading a survey team surveying a stretch of land on an Alabama road. A drunk driver crossed several lanes of traffic and drove into the survey team. My uncle was killed instantly. A death in the family is tragic no matter what, but on Easter weekend, when the entire world is singing hallelujah, it’s pretty hard.
Since then there have been 26 Easters and all of them have been very different. My grandparents dialed back the pomp and circumstance of the holiday but never wavered in their faith (at least where it was visible to me). I had only been modestly involved with religion up until that point, but within the next two years I found a church home and felt so at home that I seriously wondered if I was being called to study theology or join the church.
I wrote about my evolution of faith a few years ago. I shared:
“My love for the church followed me to NYC and college. One of the first things I did, after getting settled and arranging my work study job, was sign up to be a layreader at the Episcopal church on Broadway just a few blocks away from my dorm. I connected church with service and community.
I continued to have a healthy church life when I lived in Los Angeles as well and found the weekly ritual to be grounding when so much of my world was chaotic and unruly.”
I also spoke about why I feel like part of my faith began to shake. I have learned now that it isn’t so much my faith, but others within their faith. Saying that makes me feel judgmental, but I simply couldn’t stomach the idea of belonging to a church that was not built on a foundation of love and respect of others.
When big religious holidays happen I try to get quiet and still within my soul and see if I am ready to dip my toe back into the waters of organized religion. Not yet.
Mother has been taking W to a church in a neighborhood we had considered renting in. This is different from the church they went to last year. I actually went to that church once to see W perform in the Christmas pageant but after a visiting priest spoke to me about finding meaning in my then very recent loss I knew it was too soon.
W and mom enjoy this new church and I am truly glad and thankful that she is taking him and showing him the ritual of the service. I have also been asking her to help with some of the stories of the holiday because I am much better at the, “ok, now that you have heard the church version, let’s talk about the metaphor” conversation. This makes for some interesting driving conversations with W. This morning may have been the most bizarre.
W: God died.
W: He died like Charlie. [our dog]
Me: tell me about it
W: God died on the cross-walk and then he was not dead. He got re borned.
Me: What do you think about that?
W: Is that going to happen to Charlie some day?
Me: in some way it already happened
Me: We talk about Charlie all of the time, right? So he is still alive in our memories.
W: But he didn’t walk on the cross walk. It’s not the same. Charlie is not God.
Me: No, but does that help explain the “not dead” bit?
W: Can I have candy for lunch?
I should stop trying to explain Easter.