How to Honour Easter if you are Spiritual but not Religious

Okay, so here it is… I identify as a Buddhist, a follower of the teachings of the Buddha.  But I am deeply deeply touched by Easter.  Not the bunnies and yellow, pink, and blue fuzzy things of Easter.  I love the MEANING of Easter.

And so, this Sunday you will find me head bowed, tears wetting my cheeks, in the Anglican church that has served generations of my family in their times of celebration and sorrow.

The resurrection of Christ is for me symbolic of the resurrection of hope, of new beginnings, and of the continuation of life. Rebirth and redemption. The Biblical story reminds me that the beauty of life continues, even after times of immense suffering and darkness.

Historical origins of what we know today to be Easter seem to have evolved from early Christian and Pagan celebrations on this theme of death and resurrection.  Most people know that Pagans have honoured the Spring Equinox for millennia. But isn’t it also interesting to know that Christians celebrate Easter on the first full moon following the Equinox.  Many historians believe the two practices are relationally rooted.

Whatever faith we identify with, or don’t for that matter, we can still find meaning on the Easter weekend.  There is so much symbolism that speaks to universal human truths.

Lent, or the Lenten season, is a 40-day period that honours sacrifice.  Whether one is Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic or something else entirely… most of us believe there is  wisdom and humility to be gained in refraining (aka Fasting).  Think of the many expressions in common language usage about this.  “Bigger is not better.” “More is less.”  And there is the wonderful Japanese expression “Hara Hachi Bu” – which means 80% is enough.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday, just the name of it, reminds me that from the earth we come and to the earth return… ashes to ashes…dust to dust.

Then we have Passover, which reminds me of the remarkable adaptability of the human spirit.  Yes, it tells us, we can move through our sorrow.  That for every dark night we endure in our lives there will be a morning where the dawn will bring the light back into our spirit.

On my daily walks, I see evidence of this truth all around. Bulbs pushing up through the dark earth, compost in wheelbarrows waiting to be spread for the growing season, cherry blossoms in bloom, trees and shrubs budded up ready to unfurl their leaves.  And the faces of the recently rain drenched people of Vancouver raised up to greet that unfamiliar yellow orb in the sky!!!

Whether you believe that Christ rose from the dead after crucifixion on the cross, it is clear that Easter is a time of resonance with the human heart. Yes, we gather easter eggs, but we also gather for family and togetherness. Churches fill. The spirit of peace is passed. And the collective heart of humankind that longs for fresh starts and new beginnings, beats with hope.

May you take time this weekend, whatever your faith, to welcome magic and mystery into your own life.

In peace, Celebrant Michele Davidson

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