Saturday, 26 March 2016

Something Beautiful Remains: An Easter Reflection

“Rebirth” by Elizabeth Tarbox

"When the day is too bright or the night too dark, and your feelings are like an avalanche barrelling down the mountain of events outside your control, when you look down and you are falling and you cannot see the bottom, or when your pain has eaten you and you are nothing but an empty hungry hole, then there is an opportunity for giving.

Don't stay home and cover your head with a pillow. Go outside and plant a tulip bulb in the ground; that is an act of rebirth. Sprinkle breadcrumbs for the squirrels or sunflower seeds for the birds; that is a claiming of life. And when you have done that, or if you cannot do that, go stare at a tree whose leaves are letting go for its very survival. Pick up a leaf, stare at it; it is life; it has something to teach you.

You are as precious as the birds or the tulips or the tree whose crenellated bark protects the insects who seek its shelter. You are an amazing, complex being with poetry in your arteries and charity layered beneath your skin. You have before you a day full of opportunities for living and giving. Do not think you know all there is to know about yourself, for you have not given enough away yet to be able to claim self knowledge. Do you have work to do today? Then do it as if your life were hanging in the balance, do it as fiercely as if it mattered, for it does. Do you think the world doesn't need you? Think again! You cleanse the world with your breathing, you beautify the world with your thinking and acting and caring.

Don't stay home and suffocate on your sorrow; go outside and give yourself to the world's asking."

Elizabeth Tarbox

We all know suffering...We all know moments when all hope has seemingly gone...And yet from this place of emptiness, nothingness, knew hope can rise again...There need not be despair if we turn again in faith and return to love and life...This is the meaning of Easter for me...

Easter begins with the empty tomb; Easter begins with despair and fear; Easter begins with a sense of emptiness of nothingness. In the account in Mark’s Gospel when the women go to the tomb and find it empty they flee in terror and say nothing. The real miracle is in what follows, the power of love that comes to life from nothingness, from the emptiness.

This is something we can all surely relate to at one time or another this sense of losing everything, of everything being lost. This to me is the essence of the whole Easter Mythos that love can once again grow from the nothingness, from the emptiness. That abundant love can once again grow in our own hearts and our own spirits and that we can incarnate this in our own lives. That this love can be poured out onto our world that so desperately needs it, as much today as when they found the tomb empty some two thousand years ago.

This is our task I believe, our religious task, to once again bring the love that was so evidently present in the life of Jesus alive once again in our oh so human flesh. We can do it, we do not have to be afraid, we do not need to flee in fear, we just need courage gentle courage and this will sustain us. We just need to fill the empty tomb with that abundant love that is present in all life, fill it to overflowing and then let it pour out in all of life…

In all that we feel, all that we think, all that we say and all that we do...

“Easter Day” by George Landor Perin

"There is perhaps no day in all the year so full of meaning to the sensitive soul as the Easter Day. To say nothing of the beautiful music and flowers with which it is honoured, it is to multitudes the anniversary of new life by which they were borne to higher and nobler hopes. The peal of Easter bells and the melody of the Easter songs are the signals for a throng of memories and a host of suggestions to every heart. The origin of the day is simple enough. It is the anniversary of the Master’s resurrection. But what are its deeper meanings, its profound suggestions? I know not how it may be with you, but for myself they are embodied in such phrases as theses: “Victory from the ashes of defeat;” “Hope born from the soil of despair;” “Immortality crowning the grave.” The resurrection of Jesus means all this and more."

by George Landor Perin

Easter is seen through many lenses, some are very clear and precise, they are certain as to what Easter is about. Others amongst us though seem to see Easter through a kaleidoscope of ever changing colours and shapes. What comes to your heart and mind when you think of Easter?

Easter is a deeply universal festival in my eyes, I think there are so many layers to this mythos, that if we allow it to can touch all of us. In order to be touched by the magic of Easter you do not have to believe in the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus, you can believe in Easter without having to accept that this actually happened. In fact perhaps it loses some of its power if we focus purely on this. Maybe actually if we view Easter through this very clear lense we will miss much of what it can teach us. Maybe it is better to view Easter through a kaleidoscope or at least partially clouded glass, maybe we see more through the mystery than the seeming clarity.

What is clear to me is that Easter is about the Power of Love that grew from that empty tomb. Whatever we may think about bodily resurrection, something definitely lived on beyond the physical death of Jesus. While his body may no longer have remained in the empty tomb, some beautiful aspect of his life certainly remained.

I believe it is the same with every life and the love that life leaves behind, something beautiful always remains.

This brings to mind those beautiful words often shared at funerals by that famous author “Unknown”

“Something Beautiful Remains” – Unknown

The tide recedes but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand.
The sun goes down, but gentle
warmth still lingers on the land.
The music stops, and yet it echoes
on in sweet refrains.....
For every joy that passes,
something beautiful remains.

Every life leaves its mark. Every life impacts in some way. We should never think that we are insignificant, that we do not matter. We impact on everyone and everything around us. Everything that we do and everything that do not do matters. There are those who I have known and who have loved me, who have been gone many years, who are still impacting on my life. Of their lives, something beautiful remains.

Easter is a reminder to me that even after death something beautiful remains. It is an acknowledgement of life’s sacredness. It is a reaffirmation of life that not even death cannot end. Easter for me is about birth and re-birth, again and again and again…

All around us life is being reborn. I see this clearly as I walk down and around Dunham Massey each morning. The spring flowers are everywhere, the birds are singing more sweetly and the deer, the beautiful deer, are increasingly going about their deer like business. I have noticed the young bucks squaring up to one and trying out their growing antlers either against tree branches or fencing with one another. It is a beautiful sight of life coming alive and it fills my heart to overflowing with a love for life itself and helps me connect to my true inner being, to all life and to that Greater reality that gives birth to and connects all life. There is something about the essence of Easter in all of this.

In each of us is written the essence and the spirit of Easter. In each of us is written to capacity to resurrect the Love that was at the core of the life of Jesus. We can bring that love alive once again. We can incarnate that love again. That love can seemingly die in the winters of our lives and come to life once again in our spring times, regardless of the time of year. It is we who can bring this love alive once again. We can become at one with that ancient tale. We can become the resurrection and the life. In so doing we will ensure that something beautiful will remain from our simple, humble, oh so human lives.

Easter begins with the death and loss of the life of Jesus, with the seeming end of his life’s promise. Every single death seemingly means just the same. It begins with the despair of the empty tomb and the despair and terror of this very emptiness. This though is not where it ends, something else happened, something grew from this emptiness, this hopelessness, this despair. Something beautiful remained. Something new was born again. This despair was transformed into a new Hope. The death of Jesus, for those who followed him, was not the end it was actually the beginning, a new beginning.

This very same possibility of transformation and renewal exists for all of us. We see examples of this all around us. Not just in nature and the earth’s renewal but in the lives of ordinary folk too. People who have experienced utter despair, have lost everything precious to them and yet have transformed this into a loving new Hope. Yes they have known utter despair, but this despair has been born again in a new Hope. Resurrection is not some mysterious event from 2,000 years ago, but a promise to each and every one of us; Resurrection is a promise and a challenge for us all that represents the possibility of transformation for everyone and a real sense of a new Hope.

Even after death, something beautiful remains. If we live lives of love and beauty. If we become all that we were born to be if we bring to life from the empty tombs of our own lives the love that is at the heart of the Easter Mythos. A love that is eternal, a love that never dies, a love that I believe is our task to bring alive.

...May we become the blessings our world needs...Not just this morning, but in every morning to come...

These are thoughts of mine about Easter, a universal festival for all people at all times. This is what it means to me, but what does it mean to you. I ask you once again what comes to your heart and mind when you think of Easter?

"Something Beautiful Remains" 

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