…When the birds are breeding and the bunnies come out to play.
Or be squashed under car wheels
Yes. I’m weirdly channelling Wizzard deliberately at the wrong time of year (and yes, the baby bunnies are suicidal at the moment).
This is a fascinating time of the year, not least because of the dichotomy of hope and horror that it refers too. The Easter number one is, however, not so much of an event as its Christmas colleague.
Easter has come around again anyway and we’re in the appropriately named British Summer Time (appropriate because summer in Britain is not quite like summer anywhere else in the world, largely defined not by long sunny days and rather an even greater consumption of ice cream than in the winter months). I like Easter as a period as it is one of the prettiest periods of the church year – if you never go into churches this is the best time, if only for the wonderful flower displays – and considering it is a festival that starts with possibly the most unpleasant death created by man (and we are good at finding unpleasant ways of killing each other, as though the simple act of homicide was not enough) it does resolve itself in a cheerful triumphalism that for many people means overindulging in chocolate. Personally, I’m not a chocolate gorger, not out of any pious abstinence but simply because I am just not that into the stuff. But the lovely wife can happily make up for that and after all these years still struggles with why there is still part of my chocolate egg being nibbled away at some months later.
As a practising Christian, Easter for me is a renewal of hope and promises and an opportunity to look at the year to come freshly, unrestrained by the past – or at least not dragged down by my personal history. In theory, it is a time for forgiveness and celebration and it is still amazing to me how relatively low key even the church here treats it in comparison to Christmas. A Holy baby is probably just easier to sell than a executed and then resurrected Holy thirty year-old man. The Easter story is not easy to deal with – not only is the basic concept hard for people to grasp – the idea that a man, who is God, but also man – can take on the sins of the world with his death and then pop back up three days later – it is impossible to have the good bits without the horror of the Crucifixion. With Christmas, you can quite easily breeze over the concept of the virgin birth and conveniently stop the story with the visit of the Magi. The subsequent slaughter of hundreds of innocent babies by Herod does not normally feature on even the more religiously themed Christmas cards, but it is an important feature to understand what the Gospel story is about (and how much Herod understands just how important this child might be). But for Easter, you simply cannot have a triumphant resurrection without the terrible death. For me as a Christian, it’s a reminder that life is not a free ride, and that the assurance of the cross for those who believe is not that it is going to be all sweetness and light and rather might be brutish and painful (at least at times) but, in the end, it will all be wonderful. So it is harder to ‘sell’ Easter. Then again, I may be over thinking this and actually it is just that with the increasing amount of sunlight, flowers and calories people don’t need something as much to keep them cheerful as they do in the depths of December.
Easter is sometimes a public joyous celebration, especially beyond these shores. One year we spent our anniversary in Cyprus which also happened to be during the Orthodox Easter period. The place pretty much ground to a halt on the Saturday night but then erupted on the Sunday – giving us the first and possibly last time we’ll be sitting in packed seaside bar at eleven at night as small children run around your feet and an Orthodox priest holds court with a large glass of wine in his hand. It was more like New Year’s Eve than Easter Sunday, though thankfully no one tried to sing Auld Lang Syne. It would be lovely to see here, although I am less sure about taking on the ubiquitous huge multi-coloured plaster eggs that seemed to litter the country for the season.
So happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and to those of you that think I am off my head just enjoy the much needed couple of holidays. That side of it I think we can all agree with.