Christians all over the world celebrated Easter today. I was so moved by watching the video of HH Pope Francis performing the washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. Anyone who is not moved by that all I can say is get well soon. Grace and humility are beautiful features of awakened beings. In India the foot-bathing ritual is ancient and well known: pada puja. Required for it are immense devotion and humility, two qualities quickly becoming endangered species in the palette of human behavior.
But back to the resurrection. Christianity’s theologians can tell you a lot more than I can about how the resurrection is understood, and its significance.
For me, thinking about the resurrection brought to mind a number of loosely connected thoughts.
While the resurrection of Christ amounts to a cosmic feat of epic proportions, in order to stay more humbly connected to the message that is for me contained in that sacred event, I feel we experience a resurrection, a reconnection with divinity, an awakening to our truest natures, every time we get over ourselves a little more, soften our hearts a little more, extend ourselves a little more, particularly when doing those is tough, painful, a struggle, a climb.
What does it mean to be risen from the dead in a you-and-me kind of way? It means, in part, a refusal to acquiesce to lower vs. higher demands. It means to say no to the habitual or comfortable and embrace the tempering fires of sacrifice and the unknown. It means to heed a call that no one can talk you out of, including yourself. It means that healing is possible in all circumstances if there is a recognition that none of this is Fixed In Stone; everything, as Ani Pema Chödrön says, is workable.
Today I learned that in India laborers often die in their thirties from the sheer intensity of their work under a hot sun, with inadequate or insufficient nourishment. Many die leaving young families.
Also, many young wives in India, utterly overwhelmed with poverty, husband, young children, and family pressure from in-laws and parents, commit suicide. This is a serious problem in India.
Learning how people and creatures live from one moment to the next on this planet, in offices, homes, factories, streets, hospitals, boardrooms, nursing homes, schools, prisons, can invite us for a feast of daily resurrections. Those whose hearts have not hardened cannot look away unmoved when hearing of or seeing the myriad struggles stretching individuals to their limits. When we think of them with heartfelt goodwill we’ve resurrected ourselves out of the ice-cold death that is self-absorption and self-fixation, and doing that invites blessings, inspiration and healing like nothing else can or will provide. And though we can’t directly bring relief to everyone we wish to see free of whatever struggle binds them, we can at the very least hold them in encouraging thoughts and boundless loving wishes; to paraphrase from the Buddhist tradition: “may you be utterly free of enmity and danger, may you be physically and mentally healthy and sound, may you be able to take good care of yourself.”