29 March, 2008

Let's hear it for Easter

Spring has sprung. The first leafy fronds are on the branches. It's Easter time.

Easter has never meant much to me. Growing up atheist in a Catholic country, I felt both indifferent to and excluded from it. Age has matured me - some say wizened - and I now have a deeper appreciation for the significance of this Spring ritual.

Other cultures than Christian incorporate the idea of yearly sacrificing the god to ensure the fertility of their worshippers. The Greeks had Dionysus, who was regularly ripped to pieces by his followers. The Egyptians had Osiris. The Christians had Christ.

Creative types often feel a surge of energy around this time, an enthusiasm for new projects or regain the focus to finish old ones. It's worth remembering that we're not outside the cycles of birth and death happening around us in the natural world. It explains a lot.

I have an outsider's view of Easter, but here's my take on it. Lent is a fallow period, in which a sacrifice is made - though in modern times this seems to be of a token nature - in (pre-)atonement for god's sacrifice of Christ for our sins. (I fail to see how giving up chocolate embodies the spirit of sacrifice or atonement. I think that's why I've never cared much for it.) Then the Easter miracle occurs, god forgives us, blesses us and our crops and we can return to life, renewed.

In any case, as I munch the last of my chocolate Easter egg, I see that the life cycle, commencing again in leafy greenness across the road in the park is something to be honoured and celebrated.