I never had any particular affinity for Easter until I endured multiple deaths and hardship in a very short time as a young adult.
Growing up, Easter meant cute clothes for the mandatory Easter Mass, baskets filled with teeth-rotting candy, chocolate bunnies and my favorite sugar eggs. The elaborately decorated sugar eggs had a peep hole that, when peered into, revealed a fantasy landscape worthy of Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
During my aforementioned period of overwhelming suffering, tragedy and struggle, the local parish priest, Fr. Jerome Keaty, a Jesuit, befriended me at the request of two dear friends of mine (thank you, Jo and Lynn). Fr. Keaty started to drop by my house for an occasional chat and a check-in.
I had not attended a mass since Vatican II.
Not only had I "lost my religion"... I was in serious peril of losing my mind.
While still battling the foggy depression of grief, Fr. Keaty encouraged me to attend Easter mass. He gave me a kind, gentle explanation as to how one cannot talk about death without the context of resurrection.
I immediately felt that this was another old, tired religious ruse. I dismissed Father's words as mere propoganda.
One afternoon, as I dragged home from my job, put my key into the front door, I noticed that all around me, little signs of spring were suddenly in evidence.
The tender green hosta shoots were peeking through dead leaves; the boxwood hedge had its familiar white floral buds; the azaleas were flaunting fuschia tips! Suddenly, after that long, grueling winter of death, decay and heartbreak, green was sprouting everywhere!
And then the bell of truth sounded in my mind. If spring can follow the dormant dead winter, there must be hope for rebirth in all of life.
As much as I resisted, Fr. Keaty changed the way I see the world.
I started to view life in terms of light and dark, birth, life, death and rebirth, shade and shadow, night and day. These elements simply, and quite logically, cannot exist exclusive of the other in the balance and homeostasis that is existence.
If I imagine a world where the sun burns brightly all of the time with no shade or shadow...how appalling I find the thought!
As Jimmy Page so aptly describes the dynamics of Led Zeppelin's compositions - "the whisper to the thunder"....well, that sums up what satisfies me most - aesthetically and philosophically.
I have always appreciated dramatic contrast. Gray has never appealed to me. And I do not wear gray well.
I am still a doubting Thomasina...and I have my cynical moments, but I now celebrate the renewal of life that Easter symbolizes through the miraculous rebirth and renewal in Mother Nature.
I find immense comfort there.
In Love, Peace and Beauty...
This post is dedicated to Fr. Jerome Keaty
Images courtesy of MP Chandra, YouTube, The Ft. Worth Museum of Modern Art