Easter. A holiday so misunderstood for so many years. It always seemed to me growing up that the focus was on the death, the murder, the crucifixion. Yes Sunday was always joyful, but growing up in a Catholic school environment, I always remember the blame, the sadness, the mourning at the time of Easter. It's sort of what Easter came to mean to me, more so than the resurrection aspect.
In recent years, I myself have gone through quite the death and rebirth, and I've always wondered at this time of year why the focus is so dark at a time when we should be celebrating light. Then I was cruising Facebook this morning and came across this passage from Joseph Cambell- THE source for anything myth and human experience based. He had this to say many years ago about the Easter holiday:
"If we think of the Crucifixion only in historical terms we lose the reference of the symbol immediately to ourselves. Jesus left his mortal body on the cross, the sign of the earth, to go to the Father with whom he was one. We, similarly, are to identify with the eternal life that is within us. The symbol at the same time tells us of God's willing acceptance of the cross - that is to say, of participation in the trials and sorrows of human life in the world. So that He is here within us - not by way of a fall or a mistake, but with rapture and joy. Thus the cross has a dual sense - one, our going to the divine, and the other, of the divine coming to us. It is a true cross-ing.
"What has always been basic to resurrection, or Easter, is crucifixion. If you want to resurrect, you must have crucifixion. Too many interpretations of the Crucifixion have failed to emphasize that. They emphasize the calamity of the event. And if you emphasize calamity, then you look for someone to blame. That is why people have blamed the Jews for it. But it is not a calamity if it leads to new life. Through the Crucifixion we are unshelled, we are able to be born to resurrection. That is not a calamity. We must look freshly at this so that its symbolism can be sensed.
"St. Augustine speaks of going to the Cross as a bridegroom to his bride. There is an affirmation here. In the Prado is a great painting by Titian of Simon of Cyrene as he willingly helps Jesus with the cross. The picture captures the human participation, the free, voluntary participation we all must have in the Easter-Passover mystery."
Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That, p.112 - 113
So often, we focus on how dark and ugly the 'death' is. How much chaos and confusion it causes. How much pain. I myself am guilty of this just as much as anyone else who has gone through a major transition in life.
So my vow this Easter is to celebrate the change, the transformation, the newness born out of the journey. The freedom it has provided. The beauty of the shadow and of the light- and how it all manifests as one big mystery, continually revealing itself over and over again...
How can you do the same this weekend? How can you honor your own crosses, own crusifixions, own rebirths?