April 5 2015 Easter Sunday
The smell of apple cider vinegar comes back to me
As I think back to childhood Easters.
The too pale eggs, no matter how long I dipped them in the dye,
The crinkly feel of glassy green strands of cellophane nestled in a brightly colored basket,
The hope on Easter morning that a magic rabbit had added something chocolate to the eggs and candy we already knew about.
I feel again the strange excitement about wearing a new coat and shoes and hat –
Because they were new, because they fed our dream of spring arriving finally –
Invoking season’s progress, nature’s resurrection.
We dressed for Easter every year,
Though we’d shiver in New England’s March and April chill.
What did all this have to do with Christian Easter, the disappearance of a sacred corpse
That Gospel grief of friends who’d lost their king and savior days before?
Rather Oestera, goddess of the spring ,
Was celebrated yet again on her forever feast, by us who had never heard of her.
In ironic justice, we who thought we had moved beyond her pagan rituals
Repeated them, all unawares,
Acknowledging the seasons’ guiding role for life on Earth.
The childhood Easters I’m referring to occurred in the 40s and early 50s in Rhode Island and Southestern Massachusetts, in a staunchly Irish- Catholic family. I find it interesting now, as an Interfaith minister who is familiar with the traditions of many religious traditions, ancient and modern, that although we had no idea, back then, of the Celtic goddess of spring, Oestera, for whom Easter is named, every year we followed faithfully the rites of her ancient feast. It makes me wonder what others facets of our daily life spring from ancient customs similarly transmitted faithfully from generation to generation for millennia . To what extent do we now, today, amidst our technology and manufacturing, continue to live as did our distant forebears?