Finding Emmanuel in Easter
Today didn't really feel like Easter to me. Neither my family nor my husband, Chris’ family have incredibly involved Easter traditions, but it usually includes family and faith gathering. Some of you won’t be surprised to know that I grew up without the traditional Easter trappings of coloring eggs, egg hunts, and easter baskets because just like Santa isn’t real, and Christmas is about Jesus birth, the Easter bunny is a descendant of pagan fertility rites, and distracts from what Easter is really about - Jesus death and most importantly his resurrection. While I’ve been mostly annoyed when I find eggs instead of crafting materials in Animal Crossings: New Horizons in the last week, I love the joy my friends and their kids share in their egg-centric Easter traditions.
Of course, I’m still meditating on the Christian Easter story, especially the themes of death and resurrection. I’ve been on a journey to find Emmanuel - God WITH us. In both What is the Bible and What We Talk About When We Talk About God Rob Bell highlights how God calls people forward into deeper relationships and more holistic understanding, always moving us towards Shalom - fully integrated peace and harmony with each other and the Divine. Throughout our biblical record of folks encountering God, we often see inspired movement through common experience and story. The story is always familiar, until the Divine twist.
A couple years ago, I read “The Women Who Run With Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who traveled and recorded numerous folk tales, and then examined them, seeking out female archetypes,experience, and wisdom. One of the first things Clarissa dives into is the life / death / life cycle that we see and experience everywhere from nature to our own psyche. She tells the story of “La Loba” (the wolf woman) who sings over the bones of wolves to bring them back to life. Her explanation of releasing what has ended and expired to make room for new beginnings helped me recognize when seasons ended in my own life. The “death” portion of the life, death, life cycle while still often messy and painful isn’t something I recoil from as much as I once did. I can honor my seasons, the seasons in nature, and the seasons in others in new ways when I understand what’s happening.
Here’s where resurrection and feminist folk tales collide - the theme of the Easter story (Jesus, not bunnies) is so familiar to humanity because it mirrors the stories we’ve lived-- our life, death, life cycles. It’s different and radical because of the Divine twist, which continues to call those of us who claim Christian faith forward, towards Shalom. Maybe God arranges encounters through our human experience and lore, maybe our human experience and lore echo Divine patterns, maybe both. All I know is this life / death / life story, this resurrection, gives me hope.
It gives me hope for what comes next, in my life and in the world. It gives me hope that when the world seems to be ending, the next act can bring us a step closer to integration, peace, and unity. It keeps me scanning my horizons for a Divine twist, but also looking for Jesus in the face of my neighbor, delivery person, and family. After all, at first Mary thought resurrected Jesus was the gardener.
I'm not here to invalidate any of our struggles with platitudes. But maybe if we start looking for resurrections in our lives we can also learn to see God with us and in us. Maybe when God calls us forward, we'll be ready.