Recently a student asked me to explain the meaning of Easter. Here is what I wrote to her. I hope my response is helpful to you, as well.
In the Christian faith, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death to new life. His resurrection reveals the paradox at the heart of the faith. It is in facing the reality of suffering and the darkness of death that new life rises. Whether or not you believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is power in this mystery. Easter sunrise is the transformative moment when light meets darkness and the tomb of death becomes the womb of new life. When I was a little girl, we would sing and dance to the song, “Lord of the Dance”, at my church. It had the words, “They buried my body and they thought I was gone. But I am the dance and I still go on.” We would lie down on the ground as if we were buried and then jump up again and dance all around. We were enacting the wonder of resurrection.
Easter is also about the experience of atonement, which really isn’t a strange and lofty theological term. Atonement simply means “at-one-ment”. It means gathering together and restoring again what has been broken and torn apart. It means becoming whole again. In Christianity the atonement that is celebrated at Easter is the restoring of the relationship between God and humanity. It is the reconciliation of what is mortal and what is divine. The resurrected Christ is the embodiment of this reconciliation. He also leads the way for Christians to experience atonement within themselves, when the scattered and broken parts of one’s life are restored and a new and enlivened experience of wholeness is realized.
To Christians who are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, happy Easter to you!
To Jews who are remembering when God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, may you have a blessed Passover.
To all who are grateful we have made it through a long winter, may you rejoice that spring has arrived!
On Tuesday, October 22, the Spirituality Center is hosting a “Holistic Healing Panel Presentation”. We will have the opportunity to learn about different approaches to healing: acupuncture, therapeutic massage and Reiki. The word “holistic” is derived from the word for “whole”. The words “health” and “holy” are also connected to the word “whole”. They come from the same Germanic root. Having said that, some of the healthiest – and holiest – people I know do not necessarily have good, physical health. One of my dearest friends has a congenital condition that caused bleeding in her brain. She lives with challenging disabilities, yet she exudes a quality of peace and well-being that makes you know she is whole. Good health has many dimensions.
With these words in mind, I offer you a blessing:
May you experience healing, however you need it,
in body, mind and spirit.
May you feel whole.
May you realize that you are holy
in the essence of your being.
I hope that you will join us for the panel presentation.
This summer, while flipping through fashion magazines on a beach at Cape Cod, I noticed references to “mindfulness” and “meditation” between the articles on fall fashion, sex and celebrities. It would seem that mindfulness meditation is “in style” (like the name of the fashion magazine I was reading). Sometimes things that are in style can be tiresome. If a song is popular on the radio, for instance, you might get tired of it. Enough already! Even a song you like loses its appeal if it’s overplayed. In the same way, I’m a bit tired of hearing the word “mindful” these days. It’s overused and often misunderstood.
Sometimes you can also feel left behind when something is in style, like meditation, and you’re not familiar with it. I feel that way about yoga right now. I don’t practice yoga. I don’t even own a pair of yoga pants, although they look comfortable. I walk and I swim for exercise, but I don’t do yoga. This makes me feel out of sync with popular culture. I think some people feel the same way about meditation. I’ve heard people say they probably wouldn’t have the patience or discipline to meditate, even if it’s popular right now. (“I just wouldn’t be good at it.”) That notion of quieting the mind sounds too difficult.
I would suggest that you let go of the fashion magazine popularity of mindfulness and meditation. Instead, think about what you really want for your life. Most of us want a deeper experience of feeling alive, beyond the daily anxiety and stress that we carry around. We want to feel more connected – to ourselves, to others and to the beauty of life. Mindfulness meditation provides a pathway to a deeper awareness of who you are. Ultimately, it is about honoring the gift of being alive.
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more. On Wednesday afternoons, at 3:00, I provide a time for guided visualizations and meditation. You are welcome to join me.