First, the reflections:
I’m not a religious person in the strictest sense. I believe in God. I’ve gone to church several times in my life. I pray when times are hard and thank God when times are good. I’m the cliché, the agnostic “spiritual” one.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve had the urge to examine the stories we tell each other as Christians, and what someone non-denominational like me can glean from them. Not just in my writing, but in life. What can someone like me get from a day of Easter bunnies, painted eggs, and vague mental pictures of a cave door left open while Jesus rises into the heavens?
Today, what I see is a story about a man who showed people who he was. He was honest. He didn’t just say he cared for others. He let his actions be his testimony. You know how the quote goes by Maya Angelou. Some variation of:
Well, it stands to reason that people prone to duplicity and lies wouldn’t believe someone who lived his life as journey of empathy and compassion. It makes sense that they would be threatened, that they would lash out and punish someone for making them examine the poison within.
We all know what happens from there. The torture, the beatings, the crucifixion. The desperate attempt from the man on the cross to understand why he was abandoned and left to suffer. Why he was chosen to suffer because of who he was born to, in the same way so many of us are chosen for suffering because of how we look, how we’re born.
But perhaps the most important thing I’ve gleaned from this story today is this: even a deity can bleed, cry, rage, and hurt. Even a deity can question the world God created. Even a deity can ask why humanity chooses to ignore love and embrace suffering, especially when inflicting it on others.
I remembered that even a deity took some time to heal from those wounds, and that no one got to rush him out of the cave so they could see his wonderful transformation on their schedule. He died, he forgave. But that didn’t mean he jumped off the cross ready to roll. He still had a journey to go through in the underworld, as most of our spiritual heroes do, regardless of religion or mythology.
I think a lot about all religions, about our chosen heroes and our modern mythologies. The Civil Rights movement. Me Too. Never Again. The one constant seems to be that our modern heroes, much like our ancient ones, showed us not just who they were. They showed us that if we’re willing to do the work, they are who we can become. They weren’t perfect. But that wasn’t an excuse not to try and make themselves — and the world around them — better.
But first, we have to go deep, deep into the dark. We have to reflect and learn, and yes, we have to heal. Even the son of a God needs to nurse his wounds before he can rise again. But he can rise. We can too. When we’re ready.
And… God forgive me. But I never let this day go by without watching the modern classic: Kung Fu Grandpa in the Food Lion Parking Lot. So much action! So much drama! So much humanity!
“Jesus gone rise up, I’ma whoop the devil.”