Easter was always one of our family's most important holidays. My mom, at Easter, always tried to make sure my brother and I had a new shirt for Easter church service and my sister a new dress. When she could afford it, she too would don a new dress for Easter, often joining my aunts and grandmother in this tradition. I have a family photo which shows my Aunt, My mother and my Grandmother all wearing identical Easter dresses. I smile when I look at it and remember the very Easter dinner when the photo was taken. Back then our extended family always got together for holiday celebrations and Easter was a "major".
We would normally gather at my Aunt Franny's house. We would have an Easter egg hunt and enjoy a huge Easter dinner. I miss those big raucous get togethers.
On Easter evening one of the TV networks would air "King of Kings". I loved this movie; what kid would not love the majesty of Christ's rise to manhood and be witness to the miracles he performed. We followed with awe Christ's testing in the desert, his multiplying the loaves and fishes, his dramatic rising of Lazarus back to life, his healing of the lepers and his divine forgiveness for those who have strayed.
As Christ was persecuted my childhood eyes filled with tears and I longed to run up that cobbled walk to help him to bear the heavy cross. As my childhood Jesus, agonized in pain on the cross, my heart ached with real pain. As the skies darkened upon Christ's death, a cloud passed over my soul as well. Finally, my childhood lord triumphed as he arose to alert the world that life is truly everlasting.
Ah, the glorious Easter of childhood!
I'm sorry to report that I no longer believe in the resurrection nor do I believe that Christ was the son of God. While I do believe in a superior being which I'm comfortable calling God, I have no allegiance to any organized religion nor do I hold "my God" superior to those of any other true religion.
There are many reasons for the distancing of myself from the "Jesus story". As I grew older, and learned to study and think for myself, I learned how corrupt organized religion can become. Long before the Jimmy Swaggerts and other modern day religious charlatans, the Catholic church exercised such power corruption that they allied with Kings for a thousand years to keep the common man manacled and under the iron control of despotism. I hated them for that. Years later, while living in the Middle East, I learned how easily it is for the ignorant to fall pray to the most outrageous exaggerations of amazing feats of our ancient religious icons. In witnessing for myself how easily man is manipulated, I hold a keen skepticism of most all bible stories. Finally, I see the vast wealth of the world-wide Catholic Church, their artwork holdings alone worth tens of billions of dollars, while people around the world are dying from poverty. Yes, I know that the Catholic church does much good charity work and I praise them for it, but most of the charity comes from "followers", not from the wealth of the Vatican.
Don't get me wrong! I believe that Jesus was a great man and I believe that if man lived his life by following the teachings of Jesus, his life would be splendid indeed. All that Jesus ever taught was to treat people as we ourselves wish to be treated; with understanding and kindness. These teachings alone are sufficient reason to value His existence.
Several years ago, when we lost our son at a young age, I turned to the church in an effort to find some comfort and some life meaning for this tragedy. I wanted to "live within the church" desperately. Sadly, I found the church service to be emptily ceremonial and ritualistic and the words of the sermon meaningless to my needs.
I envy those who attend church and believe the bible in complete faith and live their lives trying to adhere to their respective religious beliefs. I believe they are probably the happiest people on earth. I cannot.
I have written often of my strong belief in God. My earlier blog "A Moon For the Misbegotten" recalls this belief and explains why I have faith that a superior being guides us in this world. I still take great inspiration from those Jesus pronouncements "highlighted in red" in the bible. As I said, his teachings alone offer great worth and provide inspiration toward living a more rewarding life.
Even for folks like me, Easter remains an important event, even if only to serve as parable for those who wish to "resurrect" their lives toward an upward path to a greater degree of morality and fulfillment. Easter says to all who are lost that they need not be lost forever; that a personal salvation is always possible. That alone shows that Easter is a glorious celebration of life.
Happy Easter to you all and bless most of all those whose faith is as pure as that of a child, who believe in the miracle without question, and live your life accordingly.