it's easter. you may find yourself saying, but mags, you're a militant atheist. why do you care? fair question. i mean, it's not like easter is christmas, which has some dimensions that anyone can enjoy in 2011. outside of the birth of jesus christ, there's the whole civic-secular winter party of family and friends, layered in tinsel and circled in twinkling lights, to enjoy. but easter? yeah, that's pretty much the death, ascension and resurrection of the saviour christ. not a lot there for me.
but then again, maybe there is. i don't have to believe that the stand is unvarnished truth to appreciate the symbolism, the imagery, etc. i can even look at the allegory in that book and take something from it. same here. in fact, the entirety of holy week has a lot to show me in the way of symbolism. let's start at the beginning. on palm sunday, jesus arrives in jerusalem after kicking around the holy land being pretty much righteous, spreading love and healing people. it's a grand, sweeping celebration. i swept into my marriage, my "adult" life in a heady cloud of self-righteous parading of my supposed maturity. (although in my case, it's a hundred times more cyclical than the gospels - i do this up and down thing a lot.)
but things take a turn throughout holy week, don't they? bread is broken, wine is sipped, and in the garden of gethsemane, judas stabs jesus in the back. and we're off to the races: the trial, the conviction, the washing of hands. the crucifixion, the most agonizing of deaths imaginable to modern man. i mean, hell, have you ever read what happens in a crucifixion? i did, and i do NOT recommend following suit. after all, that's the root of the word excruciating. friday, they place the stone in front of the tomb and lament the loss of the man they called jesus. heartbreak, sorrow, and the knowledge of a precious few what really happened. 'course, in my symbol-easter story, i am my own judas, because i made all the choices that led to the supposed death of me.
that brings us to easter sunday. roll the stone away, and lo and behold, the man ain't there no more. he is risen, and thus salvation comes. i mean, at salvation, this is when i lose connection to the gospel. but really, the story of salvation through the suffering is a story of rebirth, isn't it? rebirth is everywhere. tonight they debut season two of treme, the masterwork of life in new orleans post-katrina. (the man is, as we speak, watching season one; i am hiding behind headphones and a computer screen because i can't bear the weight emotionally of seeing it again.) flowers are blooming, the dread chill is slaking off in favor of renewing warmth. everything that seemed dead a few short weeks ago now seems alive.
and likewise, though i am my own betrayer, i am my own redemption. i find a certain form of familiarity in the story of rebirth. i took charge, took the reins of my own life and came back renewed. now, i am no one's saviour. i'm barely my own saviour. don't get this comparison confused with some kind of god complex. (i love myself, but come on.) but what is a divorce? it's a form of death. and what is the aftermath? it's a rebirth. you come out on the other side, one way or another. i ascend, not to redeem anyone else, but to redeem myself.
still i rise. still, i rise.