Sunday, March 7, 2010

In which Easter is almost upon us, and I can feel it.

[Spoiler alert: I am preparing to get theological. If that turns you off, please feel free to stop reading.]

One of my favorite arguments against Christianity is the one about how Easter shares its name, timing and a lot of its associated traditions with pieces of Anglo-Saxon pagan spring festivals -- and/or how pieces of the Jesus story correspond to preexisting myths about sun gods who died in the winter and were reborn in the spring. It's supposed to be this great "gotcha" moment: "Oh yeah? Well your celebration of the return of the metaphorical Light of the World bears a remarkable similarity to the way other people have celebrated the profound joy and relief we experience at the return of the literal light to the literal world! Take that!"

Yeah -- it sure would be a shitty ritual if it didn't have a counterpart in a deep human experience, wouldn't it? And it sure would be surprising if other people hadn't already figured out really powerful expressions of that joy, wouldn't it?

Today I could feel the coming of spring. And, more than anywhere else, I could feel it in Meeting, in a dim, windowless, linoleum-floored room. Because there I could see the effect that spring has on other people, even people who live in cities and drive to work and work indoors. I could see how fundamentally our spiritual experience is shaped by our bodily experience, and how effectively our bodies, through the joy of being outside in the springtime, can guide us to the joy of nearness to God.

The divide between the earthly and the divine is at least partly a false one. We need to recognize who made the earth, our earthly desires and our creature comforts.

And also, we need to spend some time outside, as the light returns to the world.

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