The etymological origins of the word Easter is unknown. We now associate Easter with the Christian holiday of Christ’s resurrection but the word Easter may also have come from many other sources including; the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, the Scandinavia goddess of dawn, or from a German word meaning “to turn toward the east” or “rising” with no religious meaning. Regardless of its origins I like to experience Easter as a spring renewal.
A native of Eastern Canada I am very familiar with the deep hibernation of winter. The quiet woods laden with snow, the howl of cold wind through barren trees, the quiet of hibernating animals. Winter can seem like a dead time but amidst the cold and snow there are days shockingly bright with reflective sun, there are brave little birds hopping around feeders and pecking into trees, there is the glimpse of a rabbit or deer poking its nose about for food and water. As the sun warms and the earth turns into spring Easter arrives and rebirth is on its way. The joy in human hearts cannot be contained as the first bulb pokes its head above the ground, even with a smidge of snow left, and you see the return of migratory birds. Soon brave lilac flowers and early buds begin to form on barren branches. Your garden calls you to visit and you begin to prep your soil and plan your salad bowl, careful not to rush and plant into cold earth but ever so impatient to seed and coax life from the brown expanse.
This is the time of year when we rush into life with a light and open heart. It is also a time to look back on the perceived death of winter, on the painful loss of loved ones, on the heavy oppression of inequalities and injustices. The light of Easter shines a light on these dark challenges so we can commit to lovingly re-building, re-growing and reaffirming life. Be sure the seeds you choose to plant in life will create a diverse, sustainable life just like the seeds you choose to plant in your garden will create a diverse and sustainable garden. It’s an opportunity to learn about your environment and its needs, which areas are neglected, and what is weedy or poisonous. Rebirth sometimes means re-doing. Don’t be shy. Dig out that yucky plant that just wants to stay, aggressively cut back that negative attitude, shed what you no longer need. How can you rush into life with a light and open heart if you’re strangling yourself with weeds?!
On my last few visits to the park near my home I saw Bald Eagles sore on the thermals, deer elegantly stepping through rushes and streams, and cottontails peeking behind bushes. I met jackrabbits daring me to race them, friendly local dogs wanting to say hello, and more and more people rejoicing because they were vaccinated. This Easter I hope you step out and step up to greet the rising dawn, weed your garden of life, and of course enjoy some fabulous chocolates.