Saturday, March 29, 2008


Happy Easter!

Lent is over, but Easter is only just getting going. Yes, Easter Sunday was almost a week ago (we were away), but we’re still in Easter Week (just), and there are seven Sundays in all in the Season of Easter, which lasts from Easter Sunday until the eve of Pentecost Sunday…

Why is that important? Well, for one thing, when we focus exclusively on one day (Christmas; Easter) we have already all-but-lost its significance. It is easy to dismiss a day; harder to dismiss a season. So when the Church dismisses the season, is it any wonder that the host culture so easily re-defines the day?

We were on holiday in the Lake District, and walked to church in the snow on Easter Sunday. Something the preacher said struck us: that Lent is a season for the discipline of embracing death, of laying something down, denying self…and that Easter is a season for the discipline of embracing life, of taking something up that makes life qualitatively more full/fulfilling. That is, not just taking back what was laid aside for Lent – that is nothing more than a denial of death, a clinging to the old life – but replacing old life with new life, by living more fully. We observed that this is what some have made Lent – instead of laying something ‘negative’ down, taking something ‘positive’ up – and that this fairly recent development stems from a loss of the meaning of Easter as a season…

I don’t yet know what I will take up, but, the invitation is extended to me.

On one day of our holiday, we went for a walk, and in a field beyond a barn full of cows, we came across a new-born calf with its mother. The calf was slick with the wetness of birth, tottering on new legs, and shivering in the cold wind. The mother was herself still recovering from having given birth, had not yet delivered the placenta; had not yet licked her calf clean…we’d only just arrived too late to watch the moment of birth itself. Not being a farmer, my inclination was, this calf needs to be washed down, and dried, not left out here exposed to the elements. But I presume the farmer knew best, and that exposure to the elements was precisely the best thing.

And that is my image of Easter: an event, yes, and an incredibly significant one at that…but an event that leaves us at the beginning of new life; vulnerable, not certain; exposed, not sheltered; messy, not presentable; possessing certain knowledge intrinsically, and yet needing to learn how to live in a whole new reality…

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