Some Thoughts for Easter
The Easter myth telling of the death of Christ on the cross on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday can be interpreted on more than one level.
On the literal level it tells us of the sacrificial Lamb of God who gave his life as atonement for the sins of mankind.
Easter occurs at the time of year when new life is springing up all around us – witness the newborn lambs, flowers in the hedgerows and new leaves on the trees!
It is a time of change and renewal. Like Christ, what appeared to be dead and lifeless is now vibrant and full of new energy and life.
On an inner level the Easter story encourages us to allow change in our own lives; to turn away from wrong doing and bad attitudes, an opportunity to reflect on the state of our souls; a chance to do away with everything that is selfish or unclean.
This involves a kind of death; as Christ died, so must we die - to self. The word ‘self’ actually means ‘the ego’ which is the part of us which is self serving. It is the part of us which can and does wreak havoc, not only on a personal level but also in families and communities, and even between nations. How many wars have been started because of the over inflated egos of our world leaders!
When I was a child I was taught always to take the smaller piece when offered a plate of cakes, not the larger, which was a lesson in selflessness at an early age, for which I am grateful! As we know, children are inherently selfish and consist almost entirely of ego.
Another manifestation of the Ego, is a lack of forgiveness. This usually stems from a wounded Ego which considers itself always to be in the right. Lack of forgiveness can also take root in our minds because of lack of understanding, which is a state of ignorance.
But if we are able to put ourselves in another person’s shoes we can come to an understanding of who they are and where they are coming from. And from understanding comes compassion and from compassion flows the spring of life-giving forgiveness.
The heart of the Good Friday message is that of forgiveness. If we are to accept the forgiveness of God we must also forgive others, including ourselves. Maybe it isn’t possible to forgive others until we have forgiven ourselves!
This is a gift of grace.
And after we have died to self and learned to forgive, comes personal resurrection. The good news is that we can have new life now, we don’t have to wait until some distant point in the future when circumstances have supposedly changed for the better. The bible tells us that ‘now is the day of salvation’.
This is the good news of Easter.
Another thing which is made manifest when we die to self is the breaking of attachments. The ego naturally attaches itself to things, places and people, even our own bodily form. It does this in order to make sense of itself and the world as we are growing up.
But as we grow in spiritual maturity so we are able to gradually cut the strings of these false attachments, which hinder us on our spiritual path.
It is said that even Christ himself was attached to his body – that in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion he prayed to be spared the trial that was in store for him, that the cup of suffering should be taken away.
However his suffering was necessary because without it the forgiveness of sins would not have been granted and the resurrection could not have taken place.
If we allow suffering to do its work in us, new life will be the natural outcome. This is true freedom. How much better it is than to harbour bitterness, when we have this wonderful opportunity for change, as the caterpillar is transformed into a beautiful butterfly, forgets its former life and becomes transcendent!
This transformation is possible now, if we really desire it and is at the heart of the Easter story.