Monday, March 25, 2013

Are You Ready for Easter?

Let's start with a question: what does Easter mean to you?

When I was a young child, Easter meant the Easter bunny who brought us baskets filled with candy.  He hid the baskets the night before.  On Easter morning, we kids searched the house for the baskets until we found them.  I still remember the year they were hidden in the oven!

Easter also meant new dressy clothes.  My mother would take me shopping for shoes, usually black patent leather in a different style each year.  The Easter dresses were usually frilly and fancy, in pastel colors or bright Easter egg colors.  One year in middle school, I wore a peach-colored linen suit with a sleeveless rayon white blouse with peach-colored swirls on it.  My mother bought new clothes, too.  My father and brother sometimes bought new suits but at least a new shirt, tie and shoes every year.

As a child, I didn't understand well the religious meaning of Easter.  We were a Christian family and went to church on Easter, but for me, the Easter bunny was far more interesting than somebody dying so long ago.  As I grew up, I learned more and understood better the basis of the religious holiday.  In high school, I went on a school trip to New York City to see the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, a musical I still enjoy.  Suddenly, the betrayal of someone for money took on new meaning for me, as did the role of music in religion, or betraying a friendship.

As an adult, I developed an ambivalence about Easter, and about religion in general.  At the same time, I believe it's important to respect the right of others to believe as they choose.  I expect others to respect my right to believe what I choose.  This respect doesn't happen as much as it needs to.  About religion.  About many things.

I believe that we link consumerism far too closely with religious holidays whether it's Easter candy and baskets or new clothes for Easter.  I like holidays when the goal is to spend time with people I love, people I want to spend time with and who want to spend time with me.  Money is not that important.  Buying stuff is not that important in our world.

The Roman Catholic Church has a new Pope this Easter, and in that, they rejoice.  The Jews celebrate Passover, as Jesus and his followers celebrated Passover.  Protestants of all denominations celebrate with all Christians the Passion, death and resurrection of a rabbi who the Romans and the Jewish priests of that time thought of as a troublemaker, one who preached peace, love, and acceptance for all people, no matter their stations in life or their beliefs.

What does Easter mean to you?     

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