This may be my favorite time of year in the Pacific Northwest. Everything is in bloom, from the dainty grape hyacinth to the showy tulip. The roadsides are carpeted in daffodils. Magnolia trees and camellias hang heavy with ornate blossoms. Minuscule daisies spring up in the sidewalk cracks. The grasses are a bright, almost-fluorescent green, a sharp contrast to the drip and gray of the long winter.
From the blue jays nesting in my attic to the sheep grazing in the vast meadows, the world around me seems to be shouting, “Alive! Alive!”
It reminds me of one of my favorite Russian traditions. There, the people greet one another on Easter with this jubilant greeting: “Christ is risen!” The responder answers, “In truth! He has risen!” I love the profound simplicity of this interchange.
A speaker in our congregation pointed out that Jesus Christ destroyed only two things in his life. During the last week of his life, he overthrew the moneychangers tables and cleansed the temple, after which he cursed a barren fig tree for not providing fruit (see Matthew 21:12-16, 18-19).
This sentiment touched me deeply. Everything else Christ did, literally everything else he touched, was to heal, to transform or bring life. Christ was a creator and a restorer in his premortal life and his mortal life, and he continues to bring life and light to the world.
This Easter season, we can do the same. We can heal relationships. We can touch those who are struggling spiritually, mentally or physically. We can transform someone’s day with a kind word or a smile.
Christ did many miraculous things in a deliberate manner, traveling all over the rocky hills near Jerusalem to raise friends from the dead or console those who were grieving. But he also healed along the wayside, taking moments to lift or to forgive. We can be both deliberate in our interactions, but also look for small, unexpected moments. Christ had his heart tuned to those on the margins of society, the outcasts.
Moreover, we can be creators of truth and beauty. A creator is the opposite of a consumer. Christ transformed plain water into wine. He took paltry loaves and fishes and multiplied them into a feast for thousands.
There is a powerful lesson in this. He took what was already there and added to it. His healings took place with mud and spittle and dirtied rivers. In both his teachings and his actions, he kept things simple and grounded in the materials at hand.
It is tempting to gild the Easter lily with egg-hunting productions, new dresses and lavish meals. I think the Easter traditions are lovely, but I find myself going simpler with each year, drawn to traditions that bring us to the scriptures, the deeper meaning of this holy week, and to that sacred Easter morning. I make hot cross buns on Good Friday. For many years, I have served Easter dinner in the form of loaves and fishes, one more reminder of Christ’s miracles.
Christ said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (see John 11:25). This Easter season, with the world coming alive all around me, I am reminded and humbled by this message of hope: to be alive in Christ, to perpetuate the miracle of life and goodness, to worship in simplicity in honor of our Great Creator.