God and I have this great relationship. At least I think we do … it seems to work from my standpoint, I hope it does from His. Organized religion and I never quite hit it off and even during advancing seniorhood I still consider myself ‘in recovery’. Any flirtation with religious formality ended with the last of my innocence when, what I needed was good advice about a bad marriage, but received instead only tongue-lashings and platitudes from every religious person I knew … including my Mom who makes even holy men look like their halos need a brisk buffing with Brasso.
Rather than concrete and stone, my cathedral lies in the embrace of towering trees and singing birds or falling snow, where I can clear my head and enjoy a more direct communion with the one who makes it all possible. While I remain a Christian, I quickly lose patience with anyone who tries to cram their belief system down my throat or would do harm to those not sharing their own archaic philosophies. Everyone has a chink in their armor and I’d like to think the fatal flaw of such people lies in their mistaking tolerance for weakness. Maybe I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve, but I really like wishing people “Merry Christmas and Happy Easter.”
Easter is one of the most significant holy days on the Christian calendar, although most kids would tell you it’s about chocolate bunnies, colored eggs and marshmallow chicks. When I was a kid, the Easter Bunny was second only to Santa Claus in importance. Waking up on Easter Sunday to a straw basket of sticky confections was nearly as much fun as walking in the park among the cherry blossoms with my best girl, once I grew old enough to realize there was something even sweeter than the stuff in my Easter basket.
I was probably no more than three or four but I clearly remember the obligatory visit to grandma’s house … watching my uncle Emil carefully craft dozens of home-made ravioli on the large dining room table. He would roll a thin sheet of dough the size of the table, deposit clattering spoonfuls of ricotta row upon row, cover the entire ensemble with another table size sheet of dough and cut each little cheese-filled pocket with the moistened rim of a glass, tightly sealing the edges using the tines of a dinner fork. I suppose it was the influence of my Italian grandmother, but as lasagna had become our traditional Christmas meal, fresh ravioli with meatballs and sausage replaced the more typical Easter ham at our house.
Once the kiddie and culinary affectations are put aside, what remains is the resurrection of a Savior. Legend has it that the stone sealing Jesus’ tomb was mysteriously rolled aside and His followers found it empty. In the following forty days He made several appearances to His disciples before finally ascending into Heaven, and it is this sequence of events that provides the true meaning of the celebration.
Whether Jesus was really the Son of God or just a hugely successful prophet will probably be debated for as long there are Doubting Thomases to debate it. Two things that I know for certain are the powerful part religion has played in sustaining my Mother during her ninety-three long years and the importance of believing in something greater than one’s self … no matter who or what it is.
There are two more things that I strongly suspect. One is how personal and private most people’s religious convictions seem to be. The other is there will always be the species of moron that lines his hat with foil and runs around shouting “Woe is me, woe is me” … and is more than happy to rain all over the nearest parade. I pray to Him who looks upon what He has created from above and shakes His mighty head, that He will always see fit to provide us with a sturdy umbrella like the one I’ve enjoyed, so far, through all my years on this good earth.
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