Yesterday was Easter. I celebrated in the standard Unitarian Universalist way, with a flower communion (yes, UUs are just a bunch of hippies). I do not believe that Jesus was the son of God, or that he rose from the dead, but Easter is very meaningful to me. Like most “Christian” holidays, is has its roots in the ancient animist religions of old Europe. You don’t need the bible to celebrate fertility, renewal, and the waking of the world after a long winter sleep. Though I live on the other side of the world from the home of the Bronze Age pagans, northern North America also experiences a re-greening at this time of year, so the holiday still fits (are whites in the tropics or the southern hemisphere less likely to embrace the rituals of their ancestors, I wonder?). Trees that were bare are now bursting with leaves and blossoms, and flowers are everywhere upon the land. The Willamette Valley receives very little snow, but in the surrounding mountains, ground that had been covered in several feet of dead ice crystals is now re-asserting its support of botany.
And thus we get to the real mystery of the Christian Easter: why are they so impressed? A man rose from the dead? That’s your miracle? Well forgive me for not really caring, but life rises from the dead at least once every year, if not more so. The tiny dry seed of the wilted annual, the withered brine shrimp egg in the desert, the spore, the cocoon, even the frozen frog… would you not call these dead if you didn’t know any better? Living organisms die, it is the fate of chromosomes to break and cells to suffer the assaults of free radicals, yet somehow, miraculously, the germ line stays alive and undamaged, and the next generation is just as spirited as the last. I myself am a collection of atoms that have spent time as trilobites, tree ferns, dinosaurs, dandelions, dragonflies, and slime molds. In me, they have re-assembled and re-discovered the wisdom generated by past beings, perhaps even to add to it.
Miracles are everywhere, right here, right now. It is time for religion to mature and embrace them, instead of putting too much stock in dusty old stories which, even if they were true, wouldn’t be all that interesting. The whole world is risen today. Alleluia.