In the final installment of this series, I want to share my favorite way to celebrate Easter morning with the kids. I realize that for many of us, Easter morning is a time to go to church and be with extended family. However, if—like me—you find yourself institutionally averse or temporarily homeless—the following ritual will hopefully be a breath of fresh air(literally).
Growing up in Spain, our small church would gather on the top of a hill on Sunday mornings and sing while the sun rose, after which we would congregate for “chocolate con churros” (hot chocolate and churros—fried dough deliciousness). As we gathered in the dark, huddled together with blankets to stave off the cold, I guess something about the physicality of waiting for the sun to rise really imprinted itself in me.
Sometimes there are lessons that need to be experienced somatically before they can be translated into meaning later on. Gathering in the darkness and cold year after year, watching expectantly for the first hints of light and warmth taught me something about resurrection—the communal path of courage through friction and letting go that leads to new life—that I want to pass on to the kids. Its not so much about faith in Jesus’ resurrection, but whether or not we believe that we too can pour ourselves out into becoming something entirely new… the communal body of Christ in this world.
In Richard Rohr’s new book The Universal Christ he describes the resurrection in the following way:
If the universe is “Christened” from the very beginning, then of course it can never die forever. Resurrection is just incarnation taken to its logical conclusion…”Resurrection” is another word for change, but particularly positive change—which we tend to see only in the long run. In the short run, it often just looks like death.
When Mary discovers the resurrected Jesus in the garden, he says, “Do not cling to me..for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” This always seemed kind of cold to me…why would Jesus say something like that? But if we assume that Jesus’ entire life was committed to a kenotic path (letting go and pouring himself out in creative love) then this moment makes more sense. He’s inviting Mary to let go of him in this particular form, and to learn to recognize him beyond the boundaries and limitations of the finite realm, universally. Richard says it this way: “ I don’t believe the resurrected Jesus was being aloof…he was saying that the Christ is untouchable (un-graspable) in singular form because he is omnipresent in all forms..”
This is the subtext that leads Richard to say one of my favorite lines from the book:
To be a Christian is to recognize Christ in all things.
Jesus’ resurrection was not to save us from our sins, but rather to “inoculate all matter” (as Teilhard says) with this recognition of the Christ already present in all reality to begin with. God wasn’t “out there” waiting for an intermediary sacrificial bridge, God has always been wherever matter and spirit coincide.
With this context you’ll understand the simplicity of our Easter morning ritual:
While the kids are sleeping, I open up the chrysalises and place decorative butterflies around the cross. They usually don’t register this fact until later in the day (mostly because they're still half asleep when herd them out to the car) but when they do, the symbolism isn’t lost on them.
Then early in the morning while it’s still dark, I wake them up and get them bundled up and we head out to the nearest lake to watch the sunrise. We bundle up and true to my own memories of Easter I bring a thermos of hot chocolate…
And we sit. We watch. We wait.
While waiting we talk about the story of Mary in the garden…about what that moment must have been like when she recognized her teacher…about her being the first apostle to the apostles. But mostly, we talk about random things…why its so cold in Michigan, how those ducks are keeping warm over there, and whatever else pops into their minds. We cuddle up under the blanket, and keep watching.
When the sun finally starts to break through the clouds on the horizon, there’s no need to sanctify the experience with a lesson. The “lesson” is plain to see, written all over their faces.
Wonder. The breathtaking beauty, the colors shifting, the sounds of creatures stirring…all mirror back the immensity of life and our place in it. There in all of the humming, awakening world is the resurrection: the ever present symbol of our ultimate potential and the resiliency of life and love. You don’t need a church choir to feel the presence of God alive in everything and re-collect to a sense of our place in the great mystical body of hope: A quiet early cold dark morning with kids noticing quietly the thriving nature of life’s unfolding will do.
To be a Christian is to recognize Christ in every thing.
In one of my favorites of Cynthia Bourgeault’s works, Mystical Hope, she summarizes this fulfillment:
The body of Christ, the body of hope, the Mercy: they are all one and the same thing. They are the unknown heart of God flung outward into accessible form so that nothing contained within that great outpouring can ever be lost or disappear—no idea, no possibility, no creature, no loved one. Nothing is ever lost. The root energy of love sustaining it all, the light which drives creation and the light by which we know it, become one in Christ.
I hope sharing over this past week has given wings to your own creative expressions with your families. Happy Easter. Sharing in the body of hope today and in what we are becoming together…