In some churches of the Christian tradition, the year is divided up into seasons reflecting the life of Christ. Each season has a color and an emphasis and is called the liturgical calendar. I have lived by this calendar in parallel with the Gregorian calendar for most of my life. The high point of the liturgical year is Easter Sunday, and the seven weeks that follow are called the Easter season. It’s Easter season now until June 9th when then Pentecost is celebrated. The color of the Easter season is white.
It was a strange Easter this year as I sat on a mountain top at the end of Angel’s Palace trail in Kodachrome State Park in southern Utah— far from attending any church service to honor Christ rising from the dead to save us from our sins. And yet it was a sacred morning as I sat to meditate and listen and reflect on how I came to be in that very spot and not in a pew.
I remember how deeply I could once feel the joy of Easter morning. This new beginning, this amazing grace, this time where anything could happen. I could say with happiness, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” and sense the long lineage of Christians who have celebrated Easter morning and the freedom it proclaimed. I helped arrange the Easter lilies, assisted with the service by reading the scripture or helped write an Easter skit. And I had prepared for this day by attending all the Lenten services for the 40 days prior and had dedicated a part of my time and life to remembering Jesus on his way to Gethsemane. Truth be told, I inwardly scorned all the emphasis on eggs and bunnies.
This story was so important to me that I went to seminary, and for a time I was the one giving the Easter sermon and leading the service, sometimes three of them in one morning. I even remember how I judged those who couldn’t seem to understand how significant this day was or only attended church on Christmas and Easter (we called them CEO’s, Christmas and Easter Only) as if maintaining some old tradition but not really caring about the story of the resurrection.
And now I am almost mystified that I am that one who doesn’t go to church, even on Easter, the high point of the church year. I yearn to observe it in some way because the joy I felt all those years came from a place that recognized Truth in the story. Jesus was an Awakened One. While I can no longer reconcile the teaching that he died to save me from my sins, I also feel this Easter story is Truth and it goes deep to showing us that physical death is not the end of who we are. We are spirit in a physical body. And we are humans, learning we are all wrapped up in the Being of God while we walk on earth. I have always been fascinated by that long beautiful rambling sermon that Jesus gave to his disciples in the book of John just before he is arrested. He keeps repeating “So that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may know that they are loved.”
Resurrection means more to me now than the story of Christ rising from the dead; it means me awakening from the sleep that doesn’t remember who I am and who I was created to be. It’s a rising of True Self, before my ego was erected and fixed. It’s the resurrecting of the True story of who I take myself to be and how then I respond to knowing how close I am to God.
My Easter message given to me on that mountain top was on a path that was narrow, a little scary and one that made me very alert and awake to each footstep that I took. The message like the path requires that same alertness to not fall back into old patterns and ways of the world. Jesus’s words from that same sermon in John rose up—“to be in this world, but not of it.” The very same words of my path in the Diamond Approach.
A poem by Rumi now thrums in my head:
“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.