Regardless of your history, tradition or religious preference, if you have one, one thing is clear about the calendar. Every Spring (in the northern hemisphere, Autumn in the southern) Jews and Christians celebrate Passover and Easter respectively and according to ancient texts, Jesus observed the Passover Seder with this followers prior to his crucifixion. Religious calendars have adapted to nature’s seasonal calendar and to various folk figures and animals. The central focus of both Passover and Easter are stories that are told and retold, celebrations of memories to keep traditions alive with meaning. This is also true of many of the world’s indigenous people.
When you strip away most of the practices and interpretations, it is the sun, the moon, the stars, and the earth that govern our life. How we figure out our relationship to the natural environment, how we interact with it and what kind of regard we have for it reveals who we are as sentient beings. It may be a big leap from Passsover and Easter to the environment and yet those who celebrate those two events are immersed in the latter.
According to John Grim of Yale, “Ritual practices and oral narratives simultaneously connect native peoples to a world that is pragmatic and problematic, meaningful and ambiguous, of ultimate concern and felt beauty. While some in mainstream industrialized societies have begun to reflect upon the larger implications of evolution as a coherent story, the possibility of an environmental ethic developing from that story remains a challenge.”
What is evident in all of these practices is that there is an understanding that there are spiritual forces that can lead us to a higher level of pragmatism and self-understanding. Perhaps it is time that we consider how we are evolving in our relationship to the earth and to one another as human beings in the places where we live and move and have our being.
When a spiritual leader such as the Pope, whether or not you agree with his religion, calls for an end to violence and oppression, is anyone listening? Or is it simply more noise in a world overcrowded with information, pronouncements and proclamations? Take a little time to consider how you might respond differently this year and connect to a story that makes sense in your own evolution. May your Easter season be filled with opportunities to celebrate the sanctity and beauty of life wherever you are.