Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Passion of Easter

From my window I can see the daffodils are out in my windowbox, and the sky's at least substantially blue. There's no doubting it now, Springtime has definitely begun. Eggs, both in and out of doors are hatching and yielding up their treats to excited recipients. Some people have spent the weekend in church, others in garden centres and traffic jams. I'm quite happy to say that I took the time out to rest deeply and work out some of the convoluted knots I've tied my head into.

When I went home yesterday, my mother, who is gradually coming around to me not having a religion, said as an aside "I hope you've taken the time out to think about what easter means." I have to hand it to her, given how important religion is to her, she has been really understanding about the fact I don't go to mass, and does want to keep an eye on my spiritual welfare. But a lot of religious people make the mistake of thinking that if you're not in mass, you're in the shopping centre, and the fact is, I've spent virtually the entire week working out what easter means to me, because it's definitely more than an academic significance.

I was complaining a few days ago that I haven't really worked out where Easter fits into my new view of the world. As a child, it all seemed a bit of a chore; I'd spend *hours* sitting through and participating in long catholic masses followed by the treat of making myself sick with chocolate. I'd assumed chocolate was a major part of easter as so many of us catholic kids would give up sweets for lent, and easter sunday was the chance to make up for lost time. But as most people gorging themselves on chocolate this weekend haven't given up anything, it can't be that. We all know Easter as the shops present it will be distilled down to something they can sell, and that would be chocolate then.

Therefore Easter=chocolate. But there's more than that, right?

Of course there is, even since before the time of Christ, Easter has been all about rising from the dead. Look around you, and see the flowers, birds and bumble bees returning from their deaths last autumn. The world is greener, and the food we'll be eating for the rest of the year is slowly crawling out of its underground tomb. Outside becomes more than something we pass through on our way home, it's now a place to spend time, sitting under trees and outside cafes and taking long walks by the canal. In the dead of winter people would pray that this time would come, because for them its failure would mean death. We, of course, know that Spring was always coming. What's less certain is that we will crawl out of our winter shells and walk in the sunlight, and regain a bit of the life and passion that's been hibernating throughout the long dark winter. Maybe that's something for non-athiests to pray for.

As for me, I haven't been near a church or garden centre in days. But maybe we can't get anything our of this weekend unless we stop squablling about its meaning and take it at absolute face value; for many of us it's four much-needed days off at a beautiful time of year. We can be disciplined and take the time to put our lives in order to get through the next couple of weeks. Or we can take the luxury of wasting time, reading saturday's paper in bed on a monday morning, or sitting at a desk still in pajamas writing long ambling articles on the nature of easter. 4 days is a lot of time to be able to waste, and we should be greatful.

It's given me some time to work out where to go from here. It's not going to be that easy, but I've got an idea now of something I have to do. Yes, Easter's a time for new life, and I hope to see you there.


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