To those who believe, Christ was crucified and died on Good Friday. He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. It is the most important and holy feast in the Christian calendar.
As a child growing up in India we were expected, by our parents, to adhere very closely to the Church’s teachings. They were endorsed even more stringently in the home. Feast days had certain rituals. At Easter, my mother would order a dozen hot crossed buns from the only bakery in town during Easter week. The baker was a Muslim man. We suppressed our excitement when she did this. After all, Good Friday was a solemn day. The cook would have a day off. No food would be cooked on the day. We ate warm, fragrant buns for breakfast that came from the oven to the table. In the days pre-microwave, they were cold for lunch and dinner and a drink of water helped the cinnamon flavoured dough go down. My parents only ate breakfast as it was considered a day of ‘fasting’, reflection and penance. There was a service at 3 pm at Church, that commemorated the passion of Christ. The tabernacle was shrouded in purple. Adults wore black and children wore white to signify their sense of loss and mourning. We were expected to attend Church for Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. There was no music played between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Easter Sunday there was celebration in Church and our homes. Christ had Risen. The tabernacle was unveiled. We played music. And, at last, we could try and eat highly decorated hardened sugar Easter eggs at home, without breaking teeth.
Easter had added meaning for me. I was born on a Good Friday. A fact that often drew derision from others. Children can be cruel. So I never mentioned this to people and fortunately, it was rare for my birthday to fall on a Good Friday. When it did, the child I was understood, it was not a day of celebration.
I have moved away from organised religion for many reasons. But I do know I will return to attending Church again one day. My Faith is stronger than it has ever been. My non-attendance has had a purpose. I have nurtured my own relationship with God. One that has needed time to experience God my way, pray my way but more importantly, to hear what He has to say to me. Something I did not experience in decades of group prayer. Perhaps, this was a path I was meant to take. For now.
I experience Easter differently to what I did as a child. Yes, Good Friday still is a day of quiet reflection. It is the only day of the year I will eat hot crossed buns, even though they appear in the supermarket the week after Christmas. One year, incensed, I recall letting the supermarket manager know how much I disapproved of this practice. He avoided my gaze in the weeks that followed.
But rather mourn the death of Christ, I experience a sense of anticipation on Good Friday. He will rise again. During Holy Week, through prayer, I accompany Christ during the last days of His earthly journey. I believe for the rest of the year, He accompanies me on mine. The symbolism of Easter has guided me through life. I know, without exception, no matter what challenge I face, something needs to ‘die’ before it is new again. Life is a process. I trust it.
I have shared a picture of dawn at Kooljaman (Cape Leveque), in the far north of Western Australia. I had visited this place briefly in the year before and wanted to wake here one day. I knew it would be beautiful. I was right. It did not disappoint. Catching that first ray of light was breathtaking. It split through the dark and shone like a searchlight. Like all good things in life, I want to experience the moment again.
My son is joining me for breakfast today. I will have quality time with him. My daughter lives too far away to make the journey as she is resting. We will fill her absence by our love for her. Her health crisis has held a mirror to us. Life is precious. Life is short. Love is immeasurable.
No matter what your belief system is, if nothing else, may you experience renewal today. It is the elixir of life.
Until next time,
a dawn bird