Sunday, April 20, 2014

Strange Bedfellows


It’s Easter Sunday. For the first 1900 or so years of Christianity, this was the most important holiday of the faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the central pillar of the entire theology. And still is in some places— Spain for example. But starting with the presence of the Virgin Mary in Medieval times and the proliferation of paintings of her holding the baby Jesus, Christmas was on the rise. A thousand years of mixing it up with solstice traditions and at the end, we got one pretty eclectic holiday that shot past Easter on the holiday hit parade, bolstered by Clement More, Hallmark, Macy’s and an American passion for shopping.

But modern day Easter is a pretty weird blend as well. Where was Peter Cottontail in the Bible? And why are rabbits supervising egg hunts? Maybe as Joseph Campbell made pretty clear, the real holiday is resurrection in all its many forms— Spring, for starters, leaves coming back to the bare branches, flowering adorning the earth and fertility (think rabbits and eggs and animal mating seasons) in the air. There are hundreds of stories with the death and rebirth themes, one hero with a thousand faces who lives on in one form or another.

So the kids are hunting for eggs in the park down the street from me, a ritual made yet weirder because Easter falls on 4-20. While they are scrambling for the chocolate eggs, they may grow a little woozy from the second-hand smoke. The pot smokers will be out in force trying to resurrect their sense of wonder with a little help from a weed.

And speaking of rebirth, yesterday was National Record Store Day or some such thing. Amoeba Records had a line some 50 people long and a lot of them with vinyl records in their hands! Looks like my decision to keep my 1,000 plus record-collection in the basement may pay off some day. Wait long enough and what appeared to have died may just come back. Who knows? Maybe independent single-screen movie theaters will make a comeback, there will be a Renaissance of independent bookstores, teachers will get to just enjoy hanging out with the kids and each other minus the constant fear of lawsuits and over-anxious parents, able to again welcome visitors without excessive fingerprinting and to work in their room after-hours without filling out multiple forms.

The Buddhist version of resurrection is the perpetual death and re-birth in each exhale and inhale we take. Attention to breath is one of the paths to daily renewing our full participation in the gift of life. So after a morning meditation, I hope to listen to my old vinyl record of Judy Garland singing Jewish songwriter Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade while eating hard-boiled eggs with the windows open and the 4-20 smoke wafting in from the passerby's— and figure out some way to include a rabbit.

Strange bedfellows all.

PS Later that day, walked down Fillmore St. in San Francisco and ran into the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival. One more sharing the bed of festivity!

1 comment:

  1. Surely I will get you into trouble for this. But...

    I believe the rituals surrounding the darkest night followed by the rebirth of nature resonate to the marrow of our bones. Hallmark and Macy's simply surf on the wake of this primordial mysticism. And the timing of man's religious celebrations can't help but surrender to the deepest expressions of God's creation.

    With that, I wish you a blessed Easter full of bunnies, green grass, colorful chocolate eggs, the fanciest of colorful ribboned clothing, crowds of humanity in Golden Gate Park, and the wafting of herbal smoke from those thinking they might enhance this radiant display of thusness.

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