My personal religion has seen some shifting over the last few years. Occasionally, I might still refer to myself as 'Christian', but often now that's more a course of the way I was raised. A respectful nod to my upbringing as opposed to the way I practice spirituality in my life today.
Yet, without fail, as the years pass, every single Easter morning I fall back to a particular memory from my youth. Every Easter, regardless of the swayings of my personal faith, my mind plays the tune and lyrics to an old favourite hymn:
"Christ the Lord is Risen Today! Alleluia!"
Do you know it? Uplifting, that, no? I continue, throughout the day, to sing the entire first verse, though I know I get it wrong. As with most memories, I pick and choose what I recall from the whole, and concentrate it into what's meaningful for me... and sure, maybe some parts i just plain make up.
This holiday found me EASTer than I find myself normally. It was the second of the last four Easters since moving to Colorado where I have traveled and not spent the holiday in Colorado. Instead, I was EAST. This time, NJ (after a stay in NY, before a departure from PA), the state that was home for most of my life.
I was a little pensive about my visit. I hadn't missed it. I have missed people, certainly, and I have missed some things (the Ocean City boardwalk, Philadelphia, NY, good pizza, diners), but I have not missed living in New Jersey. Not visiting for a couple of years now, has not bothered me too much. It has seemed without mistake that the WESTer life is for me.
EASTer though, this past Easter... well it was nice. Fantastic, in fact.
When I awoke on Easter morning, in the home of dear friends (Ken, Debbi, and Michael Denton), I stepped out of the back door to a beautiful Easter morning, and rich memories filled my senses.
I thought about the spring there in New Jersey; the trees were budding their leaves, and the grass was soft and green. I thought of Easters with my family- colored eggs and rushes to church.
I thought about the hymn.
The day was calm and easy. Debbi prepared a wonderful little egg hunt for the kids and some bagged goodies. We played at the playground at Michael's school. Ken humored me by taking me for a ride on his motorcycle. I don't rightly know how the day could have been better.
I don't particularly want to move back to New Jersey at any point in time, but this EASTer was a reminder to me of the uplifting things of my past that continue to linger... of New Jersey, of friends and connections there, of green grass worth laying in, and the faith of my youth, complete with old resurrection hymns I still try to sing, year after year.