I got the last bottle of Retsina at my local wine shoppe yesterday. Greek Easter. I forgot until I saw that lonely bottle of wine. And it led me to take my bottle, go home, run a bath, pour a glass and contemplate wine on Easter. So here’s a stream of consciousness meditation/ramble on wine….Communion wine.
Since letting go of God, I’ve also let go of so many rituals, like the Easter rituals of church, Communion wine, and lots of food. It’s just another Sunday to me. But I miss Communion, especially on Easter when it is most poignant. I miss sitting in a pew, watching that shiny metal container move toward me, picking the most full cup (because wine!) and the smallest bread (because ew, do I chew it?). And I loved the moment that bread was on my tongue and we all meditated about redemption. This was a moment I felt freedom from my own mind, which in general, whirled with guilt, stress, and regret.
Communion is a powerful metaphor for renewal. It is clean-slating. Easter is purposefully placed on the calendar near the vernal equinox. Death and resurrection is a strong metaphor as we watch the snow melt, the first flowers peek out, and the dead trees blossom with first leaves. And unlike some, I still see that ritual as a profoundly rich experience. I feel the point of this ritual are a few key reminders. It’s a personal belief, but my personal reason why I miss it.
1. We are loved. Even without a Higher Power, I look at this as a very important fact to remember. I am loved. I don’t always feel loved, but I am. And so is everyone. Everyone is loved by someone, whether they have the gift of knowing it or not.
2. We do not have to be burdened forever by our mistakes. Without the Resurrection story, the curse of Adam and Eve is nihilistic. To be told we are destined to sin feels like a supernatural message of “You will suck no matter how hard you try.” But the Resurrection story is a clarification. “Sometimes, you will suck. And that is okay.” This is a lesson too often forgotten as we grow up, but it’s a lesson that gives us our sanity as we grow old.
3. Starting over can be done every day, every hour, every minute. Once a year, we have Easter, once a week, Christians have Communion. Those are big do-overs. But it’s allowed at any point in time. I can have a crappy morning, accidentally step on my cat’s tail, use the last of the toothpaste before my husband gets up, and spill coffee on a fellow commuter. But the moment I take a deep breath, add a treat to the cat bowl, get more toothpaste, and ice the coffee burn on a stranger, I can start over. Do overs are allowed as often as we want, for as long as we live.
I love do-overs. I love knowing that I’m on this planet to do my best and mistakes are human. Mistakes are not a curse, not a frailty, but a simple part of improving as a person. But death being death, we can’t procrastinate our more important do-overs. We got only so much time, and that is what makes death so frightening. The more we live, the more do-overs we want and the less time we have to do them.
All week, I’ve talked to friends online and in person about the theme coming up today at Sunday Assembly -death. And most of the people I talk to do not want to talk about *dying.* The conversation instantly turns to life AFTER death or life BEFORE death. And there is something tragic about most of us wanting to see death as merely a transition. Death is such a concrete moment. Sure what happens after is debated, believed, rejected, heatedly discussed. But there is no denying death is a concrete moment. Your do-overs stop at death.
But that is amazing, not terrifying. I am allowed a do-over today. If I succeed, I get to celebrate my success. If I fail, I am merely human. Whatever I think I have destroyed will resurrect on some level. The world will move on from me. I look at the Resurrection story and I understand, even as an atheist, the beauty of resurrection. I’m looking at the trees outside my window and they are still bare. But I know, no matter how they look now, they are very much alive. And the grass will grow and the leaves will spring. That tree will resurrect. And when a loved one dies, there is a resurrection among the community. When I die, the spring transition I see right now, will happen again.
I get the same do-over I’m seeing Mother Nature is taking. I can clear the slate and move through my seasons one more time. I live every day as my last new beginning because it may very well be that. This may be my last do-over. That’s cause for celebration, not fear. If I look at it knowing the world will turn no matter what my mistakes, I can see my only true purpose is to celebrate a do-over.