Orthodox Easter used to be one of the religious celebrations that I lived with the highest intensity. A forty days fasting period and a week of special church sermons allowed me to symbolically live the story of Jesus and his pain, as well as the pain of those who loved him, seeing him mocked, put in the grave, and then delighting in His resurrection. He has risen! The key word here is “symbolically” – what if I wanted to dive deeper? Every Easter, I live with this longing of wanting to feel Easter in my heart and not just motion it’s arrival.
I have moved away from the Orthodox Church. As a divorced woman who has come out as gay, I feel shunned by this institution, I am done listening to how I will go to hell, how my son and other 6 generations of my offspring will by cursed by my sins, how God is an old guy sitting up there in the sky, eyebrow up, whip in hand, waiting for his meek mortal projects to take a step in the wrong direction to strike them. My soul, my forever right barometer when it comes to the Divine, is done yelling at me that this is not it. I am done with the church. I have accepted that the Divinity is not insulted or provoked by my honesty: the truth is, I don’t know. I have no idea what or who God is, all I have is my belief that she is a heart matter and therefore I always turn to this organ in my body to listen to her. And my heart only knows to love, to rejoice and to grieve.
He has risen! Will be the phrase of today. And, ironically, or maybe not, I found the phrase that makes the most sense to me for a resurrection in a book about Rumi and Allah: “It is easy to love a flawless God, with no stain and no mistake, the way He is. What is much harder is to love your fellow human, with all their habits and flaws. There is no wisdom without love. We cannot truly love Him or know Him until we learn to love Allah’s children.” (The Forty Laws of Love, Elif Shafak, pg. 120)
I travelled away from home to be with my family this weekend. It has been a while. It struck me how different and apart we are and how prone I am to judge each and every one of them. Resurrection for me from this will be catching myself and switching from judgmental to curious. Asking good questions instead of issuing solutions which may have absolutely nothing to do with reality – a reality I don’t fully know anyway.
And my struggle to find joy in my family members, just as they are, seems (and is) insignificant in view of the human suffering still happening around the world due to the pandemic. And I remember one of the teachings that stayed with me from the sermons of the church I left: that we find Jesus in each and every one of our fellow humans. That our hearts, when they have understood their real meaning, connect to the unity of humans and feel the pain of others as well as the joy. That there cannot be one human suffering in the world that we don’t shed a tear for. This is the lesson of Easter for me: the idea that we are one, that we are all connected, that we suffer together, rejoice together and love one another – this is the resurrection. Not the food, not the ritual, not the imposed rules, not the blaming or the separation. My soul barometer purrs as I think this – I must be on to something.
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash