So yesterday was Easter, and many of my Christian friends and family celebrated the religious holiday by attending church services in their Easter finery, and gathering with family for a special meal. There might have been Easter baskets, egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, and jelly beans too. I grew up with all the traditional Easter trimmings. But my children are grown and egg hunts are on hold until they have children of their own and live close enough for me to play Easter bunny with them.
The holiday now consists of my buying my mother lilies or tulips, and getting together for a meal. I don't go to church on Easter Sunday anymore. I haven't gone in many years, although I did lead Easter services for years when I was working as a parish minister. But let's be frank. Unitarian Universalists are not known for their traditional Easter services! While I led my fair over the past decade we never once sang "Up From The Grave He Arose". Instead, we explored the ancient pagan traditions that became the Christian traditions we know today, or we celebrated the new life that comes with the Spring season. In one congregation we hid donated canned goods in the church yard for children to find and then turn in for a little trinket of some sort. And it was the Easter bunny herself that gave out the trinkets! I'm still a little confused by the whole thing.
This year was to be like the last. My husband and I, and the fluffy pup, would venture over the river and through the woods to my parents home after they returned from church. We would share a meal and spend some hours just being together with them and a few other family members. But it was not to be for me. I woke up feeling rather rotten. Super rotten actually, as mobility was difficult at best. I was unable to participate in our family holiday tradition. Yes, I was a rotten egg this year!
I will admit that I don't miss the religious tradition of Easter that I grew up with. I don't miss going to a church service on Easter. But I do miss our tradition of getting together and reliving childhood memories of hayrides to the pasture where the eggs were hidden under manure piles. I miss the wild race of cousins hunting for the prize egg (a Legg's pantyhose egg covered in tin foil) and it's $5 prize. I miss playing the Easter bunny with my own children as I would painstakingly fill their baskets with toys, trinkets, and candies. I would ever-so-carefully place the baskets near the front door with a little note that said "I'm wishing you a hoppy Easter! Love, Easter bunny". Yeah, I'm that corny!
Being apart from the family holiday tradition this year gave me pause to consider where I came from and where I am now. As a Humanist that identifies with an atheist perspective I find myself feeling a bit like a rotten egg when religious holidays roll around. I know in my bones how much my family loves me, and I deeply love them but no longer share their religious beliefs. The truth is that I haven't shared those beliefs for quite some time. And this year I not only declined my mother's invitation to attend their church service but I wound up with such a painful Fibro flare that I couldn't even make the after-church festivities.
I was a rotten Easter egg this year but I'm ok with that. Really. I'm ok with it because I've come to a point in my life where being fully me is non-negotiable. Even when it means I'm the rotten egg that says "no" to things I no longer believe, and even when my Easter outfit is an old bathrobe I wear all day long as I sluggishly moving from bed to sofa and back again, being fully me is non-negotiable. I'm ok with it because as rotten as it all was yesterday, I was authentically me. And today I'm thrilled to be able to ditch the bathrobe, move about, albeit slowing, and stretch my butterfly wings in preparation for flight.
Hope you enjoyed whatever traditions you observed yesterday and I hope you can find the capacity to love the rotten eggs in your life, even if the rotten egg is you!
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.