Let’s get the bunny-and-jelly-bean thing out of the way. Long before I became a Christian at the age of 43, I was a firm believer in Easter, as I knew it. I loved hollow, chocolate, Easter bunnies. I loved jelly beans. I loved the woven, wooden, wicker baskets stuffed with colorful, artificial grass. I was not so taken with the hard-boiled eggs, but I loved the colorful, dyed shells.
I also loved the joy in the faces of children at the community-wide Easter egg hunt our Parks Department sponsored. Squirmy kids were held behind police barricades like fans at an outdoor music concert. They stared lustily, not at famous musicians, but at a sea of colorful, plastic, hinged Easter eggs stuffed with awesomeness that were lying on the ground in an open field that still smelled of freshly-mowed grass. When a whistle blew, the barricades were opened, and pure joy ensued. At the top of my field of vision was a band of colorful eggs on the ground. In the middle of my field of vision was a band of little persons moving like a seventy-foot wide vacuum cleaner. At the bottom of my field of vision was an empty field.
That was about all I knew about Easter until I entered recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; which is now more politely, and accurately, referred to as substance use disorder. It was then that I began to want to learn more about the spiritualist, prophet, teacher, rebel, healer, miracle worker, rabbi, and Messiah (whatever that meant) named Jesus, because of whom, apparently, the Easter holiday was founded.
Whoever and whatever that guy Jesus was and is ~ I began to see him in me, and me in him. Long before I had cracked-open a Bible, the way I used to crack-open a beer; long before I “darkened the door” of a church, the way I used to darken the door of a bar, police department or emergency room; long before any of that, I knew beyond the “shadow” of doubt, that I too had been raised from the dead.
I had been resurrected. No need trying to refine, define or exegete the word “resurrection” for me. I knew, and still know, in every cell of my earthly body, and in every morsel of my eternal soul, that I too had emerged ~ alive! ~ from the tomb; the cave; the quicksand; the dank and putrid prison of torture and death at the cold hands of addiction.
I had been Easterized, long before I knew about Easter. I was not concerned about life-after-death. I had experienced life-within-death; and death-within-life. Easter had created a desire, a lust, a pursuit in me for life-before-death. It led, eventually, not only to a full-immersion baptism with water; but to the recognition of a baptism-before-baptism with fire and blood and mud and isolation. And all of those trials, wounds, disappearances and evaporations led, surprisingly and eventually, to ordination, twenty-some Easters ago.
Today is the day after Easter. But for me, at the very least, the day after Easter is still Easter, as is the day after that, and the day after that. Thanks to addiction (strange to say, but true!) thanks to addiction and to recovery; I had experienced Easter before I had experienced Easter. And now I am experiencing Easter after Easter. Do you understand me?
I am convinced that when Jesus was resurrected and emerged from the tomb ~ the womb in which rebirth began ~ I emerged with him. Furthermore, I believe you did as well. All of us, aware of it or not, are participating in the resurrection of the world… one empty cross, one empty tomb, and one day at a time.