Last September, we moved to the “Little Rome” section of Northeast Washington, D.C. I expected it to feel a little more “holy” this Holy Week (perhaps “holier-than-me”?) but it’s actually felt pretty ordinary, quiet, and not very springy yet. Here and there I see some crocuses insisting on coming up through fall’s accumulated leaves, and in well-sun-warmed yards there are daffodils. For me this is what the adult version of the Easter Egg Hunt has become—the search in my northern hemisphere surroundings for evidence of the certainty of eventual spring. Yes, the wind is blustery and I’m still wearing my winter coat when I go out, but spring is on its way.
In contrast, God is something I’ve never been certain about. For all of my life I’ve identified as Unitarian Universalist, which meant to me as a young person that I was encouraged and open to appreciating and respecting many different experiences and interpretations of God. From my mid-20’s on, when I really grappled with the meaning of the word, I identified as agnostic, as not-knowing. But when “rubber met the road” (by which I mean, preaching, Sunday-after-Sunday) during my six years of solo parish ministry in Central Oregon, I quickly came to wrestle directly with and articulate my own atheism. It was important for me as a minister to feel rooted in and clear about what my beliefs were. My best sermons were the ones when I was able to begin with laughter, then plunge down into the depths of something true and real and hard, and rise up again to connect with others, with community, with the love that I believe keeps us human and mostly humane.
There are a gazillion great posts out there worth reading this week and weekend—reflections on Passover, on Good Friday, on Resurrection, on the growing number of “Nones”—people who choose not to affiliate with any religious institution. When I have a chance these days to read something other than Sandra Boynton with actual undivided attention, I’m enjoying reading Chris Stedman’s book Faitheist. I also commend to you this excellent reprise of Rebecca Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock’s book Saving Paradise. I hope you take some time to read widely and thoughtfully this weekend, and to be conscious of what traditions you might be choosing to engage in, and why.