I recently watched a blip of an interview where Stephen Colbert had Ricky Gervais on his show and the two had a debate on religion. Stephen is a believer in God and Ricky is not. A fan of both, I was excited about this. Here's the interview if you want to watch.
To start out, to confirm, Ricky asks Stephen if he believes in God and Stephen says, "in three persons, yes." Essentially they debate their reasons for believing the way they do and I loved something Stephen brought up which was having great feeling of gratitude for existence and wants to direct that feeling somewhere. I believe gratitude is one of the greatest, most powerful effectors of change and control in one's life, regarding one's attitude and outlook on it. The ol', instead of living in a state where you're focused on what you have not, choosing rather to focus on what you do have and the complete transformation that elicits. I love it. It's changed my life, to emphasize. So, as a reason for his believing in God, Stephen says,
"I have a strong desire to direct that gratitude toward something or someone."We all have or ought to have our reasons for believing the way that we do, and I love this. It's such a beautiful reflection of humility and submission, to a person, to an idea that there IS a person, to the idea that if there IS a person then this is how you would hope it would be, or what you'd like to do with that person. It's just beautiful.
So, with Easter upon us, and as a fellow believer in God, I thought I'd share some of my Easter thoughts, little experiences I've had that act as evidence or reasons why i believe in God and Jesus who allegedly died for all of mankind and lived again. Easter.
I've got a journal I keep in my bag and at the top of a certain page, in block lettering is, "What is Easter?" Here is what I've written down, the bulleted and italicized paragraphs word-for-word with the expansion of my thoughts following (naturally):
- Going to a cemetery one year in Bklyn and feeling like I was standing in the middle of where other people's feelings and pain of death hung frozen in time, the unacknowledgement that it actually isn't the end after all.
Greenwood Cemetery is this crazy old, nay--ancient-feeling cemetery with tombs and mausoleums (mausolea?) and grassy knolls growing over tombs like homes in The Shire. The epitaphs are old and scrubbed out, or new and sparkling and pristine with long family lines, poetic and tragic stumblings to make sense of such things. It's SUCH a beautiful place and I think we went on Easter once, sort of by accident or for lack of anything else to do on a lovely spring day, and it was remarkable the feelings I had, walking through, submerged in so many people's pain. It felt sad and hopeless and created a kind of dissonance inside myself. It felt like an abrupt end, a hopeful resolution stolen away but that ought to be there. It felt frustrating. It was quite an experience.
- Driving to church one eternal winter and feeling a deep depression for all of the bleakness- the bare trees, the universal gray that covered the earth, and the monochromatism I viewed all around me seeped into my heart. Hopelessly I lay my head against the window and as I thought the words, death, death, all around is death, I really felt afraid that it would stay that way forever.
If Stephen Colbert holds to the need to direct his gratitude, I may hold to the need for hope in the universe. It's why I love the balance of things, the opposition, that if there is this then it must be that there is that. I love to believe there is something bigger and greater than I, something to look to for guidance and example, to conceive for myself that there may be a better way and that I might not have all the answers I'll ever need to know in life. Plus, winter just blows and spring brings back the hope. This is Easter.
- Working on an arrangement of We Three Kings and learning the words so intimately, repeatedly and realizing it's actually an Easter song.
The verses start out in the voices of the kings who visit the child Jesus. They take turns presenting their gifts and the second-to-last verse goes like this:
Myrrh is mine: it's bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
And ten the last verse is this:
Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice.
Sounds through the earth and skies.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Pippin, a hobbit, and Gandalf stand watching the doom of Mordor approaching. Afraid of dying, which he feels is imminent, Pippin expresses to Gandalf he never believed it was going to end this way. Gandalf replies, "Death is not the end. Death is just a pathway, one that we all must take." And he describes a beautiful place, an existence that comes next, and Pippin cheers up and says, "well that doesn't sound so bad."
That hope can exist at such a time where it feels so absent, that there is no finality to things that feel so final, is Easter to me.
- Watching caterpillars. They eat and live for one purpose: to shed their old skin and to transform so that they can live again. It is in their nature.
I talked about this already. What was sad and meaningful to me is watching the ones who died immediately thereafter, or even those that didn't make it to the metamorphosis stage. But they all--ALL--did what they were meant to do. Which was work toward becoming. Eating, climbing, working. Their lives spanned different stages. Watching them was a sacred experience.
- Going to the Good Friday concert St. Matthew Passion, by Bach. It begins so dark and tumultuous and ends so joyous and triumphant.
So one year in NY, Sean and I decided we needed some culture so we got tickets for the philharmonic orchestra for some random Friday. We were a little clueless in not realizing it was Good Friday and the piece performed was specifically about Good Friday. I loved that we didn't really know what we were in for though, because it made it all the more poignant. We listened to the music and it's just so stirring, so tragic and dark. This is where O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown comes from. And it was so emotional and evocative, by the end, where hope is reborn, life returns in exuberance, Sean and I were both a little shook up, I think it's safe to say. WOW. It was kind of a shock for both of us. It made this Good Friday so meaningful and created a desire in me to study more on all of Holy Week. Easter to me feels so much more religious than Christmas. Christmas feels like so much, it's almost overwhelming. But Easter I can wrap my head around, and I love it.
So, a good Good Friday to you and yours, and here's to celebrating the life and death and life again of the Son of a God who sent him, the perfect example of love, of hope, who gives us this fragile and precious existence, the one to whom I direct all of my gratitude, the keeper of my hope.