Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

I generally don't like to post re-runs of entries I did in my old AOL journal over here, but I did want to include an entry about Easter. I found that as I was writing, I was drawn back to this more than once and decided to share it again.

As usual I woke up before the sun this morning, and it looks like the day will be chilly and rainy. A chilly Easter is pretty normal around here. I've often thought it was a little cosmic reminder not to let pretty springtime Easter dresses go to our heads.

The way we celebrate Easter on the secular level with bunnies, eggs, chocolates, bonnets and frocks is so feminine. The eggs, the bunnies, and indeed the over all female tone of how we culturally celebrate Easter come from the Pagan symbols of spring fertility celebrations. I've known that anthropologically, more than one religion has used symbols from another as they came to share common geography and one was supplanting the other. Still, applying fertility symbolism to the resurrection was difficult for me to grasp for a long time I believe that our Creator is beyond gender but is self revealing in ways that are both male and female. However, in human incarnation, Jesus was fully male, and his death could not have been more macho. Whipped, beaten, bloody, crowned with thorns, carrying the weighty instrument of his own death on his back up a hill -- this was a testosterone laden death that required grit, stamina, muscle, and stoicism. But on the third day, women walked to a tomb, carrying the herbs and other tools used to attend to the dead in the traditional administrations of female grace, escorting a loved one into and out of this world. Instead of death, they found life, glorious, transformed life, life with possibilities previously unimagined. What could be more fertile?

I've often wondered what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene. Though she's been portrayed over the years as a prostitute, there's no mention of that in the Bible. It says that she was healed of an issue of blood, which would have made her an unclean pariah and that she was exorcised of seven demons. She would have been a woman scorned and shamed, separated from the rest of the world, and she was the first person chosen to truly share the good news that Christ was risen, the last becoming first. I can see her by a cave in craggy hills, dressed in what would have appropriate mourning clothing, rushing to the man who had already saved and transformed her life. I can only imagine her awe when she was told, "Don't touch me, I am still transforming" and a deeper understanding arising within her. I can see her running to tell Peter, John and the others the original Good News. I know that I would have thrown off the mourning clothes. I can hear in my voice what I would have said, "Y'all aren't going to believe this, but it's real, it's true! Jesus is alive! He's alive, y'all. I promise. Come with me, you have to see him!"

New life, definitely. New hope, oh yes. New promises, indeed. For Lent, my focus has been on learning how not to insult and denigrate myself. The second greatest commandment after all is to love others as we love ourselves, so learning how to love myself more made sense to me. If I offer myself only a damaging, hurtful love, I can't offer much more than that to others, and that is not what Jesus wanted for me or the world.

My Lenten journey has been very different from many I've done in the past. It's worked on levels both deep and superficial. I have felt wounds heal. I am recovering my laugh. I feel that I have put some of the difficulties of the recent past truly in the past and am moving forward with life. My appreciation of myself as a woman in all of that complexity has been sharpened and a feminine celebration feels right to me. When I first wrote of what I was choosing to do for
Lent, I wrote of denying myself joy. Today on the day I celebrate the ultimate fulfillment, I can honestly say I am sharing with you deep joy.

This year I was driven to work on courage and boldness. That's meant speaking up when it's difficult for me to do so, walking away from situations and people that demand too great a compromise of self and honor, and tackling the tasks that intimidate me. The earthiness, anger and, well, passion of my reponses to these challenges has surprised me. Normally Lent leads me through sorrow to peace and joy. This year, instead, I feel like I've come out armed, wearing a sheathed sword, emotionally supple and alert. I suppose my reaction was more like Peter's than Mary Magdalene's. Though not what I expected, it is fitting. As Jesus went into the barrenness of the desert to prepare himself for ministry, Lent is to help us prepare ourselves through tools of sacrifice and service. I do feel the peace and appreciation that only resurrection can bring. I am experiencing an almost bubbling sense of anticipation of what can be done because of the glories of transformation. In a very real sense, I feel the drama of the eternities in the actions and thoughts of this very moment. In living a Christian life, I feel them playing themselves out again and again within me; preparation, sacrifice, change that takes everything to another level. Holy Week takes me through this in a linear exploration, but on Easter, the dimensions are unbound.

I hope you all experience the glory and the power.


4 Comments:

Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Wonderful, wonderful entry.

And how interesting that we've both been spending time with Mary Magdalene.

April 16, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I hope the lessons you learned during this past Lenten season will stay with you a very long time. :-]

April 16, 2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger Judith HeartSong said...

wonderful post and I am so glad you put that up again. judi

April 16, 2006 5:18 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Happy Spring, Cynthia.

April 16, 2006 6:18 PM  

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