Belated Easter greetings!
I intended to post this yesterday, but was totally immersed in the absolute fun of a dog agility trial and, by the time I got home was too wiped out tired (in a good way) to get anything done. So this is in the better late than never category. At my last Course in Miracles gathering I shared what the Course has to say about Easter. We had a lively discussion so I thought I’d put it out there more broadly.
Those of us in the U.S. and Europe live within a culture and worldview heavily influenced by westernized Christianity. It has a powerful influence on the stories, values, norms, and ways-of-thinking we are awash in. Easter, is a powerfully entrenched Christian tradition and set of stories.
The religion of my childhood was very heavy on the sin, sinner, wrathful God stuff and Easter was an odd-feeling holiday for me. I loved the egg decorating and hunting, chocolate bunnies and baskets filled with fake grass concealing sugary goodies and trinkets. But I wasn’t so keen on the religious teachings or stories. The tiny, white, steepled church was filled with about twenty red velvet pews and on the stage wall behind the sunken baptism pool was a much larger-than-life size painting of a bleeding, slumped, crucified Jesus nailed to a cross. That image never did bring my comfort and I learned to sort of tune it out.
On Easter, from that rather macabre setting, the pastor would tell the story about the all-knowing, all loving God who got fed up and decided the only way to cleanse humans from our terribleness was to sacrifice his only actual child to horrific torture and public killing, a type of killing called crucifixion. Yikes.
I’d find my little girl self slurping away on a chocolate bunny, pondering …
“OK, if God is all-loving how could he have sent his kid to such an awful painful death? That’s kinda scary and really doesn’t make any sense …. Oh well, let’s go find another pretty egg!”
A Course in Miracles has a very different take on Easter. Here are a few key pieces.
Crucifixion is what we do to ourselves when we believe we are powerless, vulnerable, alone. Believing this about ourselves is the spiritual equivalent of pushing thorns into our own flesh.
Chapter twenty of the Course begins with a section titled, Holy Week. Here are excerpts (edited only for gender neutrality):
“Let us not spend this holy week brooding on the crucifixion of God’s child, but happily on the celebration of their release. For Easter is the sign of peace, not pain. … This week begins palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign that the child of God is innocent.”
In these miracle-mindedness teachings, the whole point is resurrection, not crucifixion. We resurrect ourselves when we rise up from the death of clinging to the past and old beliefs that do us, and our world, no good.
According to the Course, resurrection is a reawakening or rebirth, a change of mind about ourselves, and the lives we are not only living, but creating. It is the end of misery and the choosing of peace. It is the point at which we turn our thoughts to heaven rather than hell. Resurrection is when we remember who and what we truly are and release the bondage of fear.
Having been raised with the whole original sinner thing, I found it very useful, priceless really, to realize that sin is a human construct. So is the idea of being so flawed we need some “out there” God to forgive us. The root of the word sin comes from an archery term meaning to miss the mark.
From chapter 11:
“Resurrection must compel your allegiance gladly, because it is the symbol of joy. Its whole compelling power lies in the fact that it represents what you want to be. The freedom to leave behind everything that hurts you and humbles you and frightens you cannot be thrust upon you, but it can be offered you through the grace of God.”
That’s a whole different program from the version of Easter I was fed as a child.
The Course also puts a lot of emphasis on forgiveness in relationship to Easter. Anytime we “crucify” someone by judging them or holding grievances we are actually crucifying ourselves, robbing ourselves from peace. In any given situation are we offering gifts of thorns or lilies? What we give to others we give to ourselves.
Most of us know the story of Jesus brutally tortured, hanging on the cross, saying, about his torturers, “Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do.” I tend to think of this more along the lines, “Forgive them Self, they know not what they are.”
For me, Easter has become more about renewal, releasing the crap that no longer serves and stepping into new growth just as the Spring season is popping. Many of the Easter traditions actually align with this idea. Symbols of eggs and rabbits were actually pulled from pagan traditions relating to new life and fertility. As I write, here in Bend, Oregon we are experiencing our first genuinely spring-like, seventy-degree day. Yay! I am going to sign off and go outside and revel in it.
You embody Easter each time you rise above old limiting beliefs and remember the truth of what you are. And each time you do, you bless the world.
P.S. Life with Livvy and Lotta Dog
The photo above is of Olive (Livvy) at our agility trial this past weekend. We actually struggled a bit in this one and she kept missing the weave pole entry or popping out early which results in a non-qualifying run. I was a bit perplexed because she hadn’t done that in a long time. However, on day two I realized it was because I was running way faster than I’ve been able to since I’ve had her because my knees are healing!
I had a total knee-replacement fourteen months ago. It got to feeling pretty darned good several months later and I got carried away and wound up straining the other knee. This last weekend was our ninth ever agility trial and the very first time I felt truly sound. Livvy and I are having to learn how to work together with me moving so much better – what an awesome challenge to face!
Team Olive won our first, first-place in the Time to Beat event. Here’s a video of our run.
Meanwhile, socially-awkward LottaDog (Freya) got to stretch some of her old, limiting beliefs when her god-parents decided to integrate her into their pack for a couple days. Turns out hanging with other hounds isn’t too bad.
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Beautiful and Happy Spring!