On the way back from the sunrise Easter service on the beach this morning, I collected shells to compose this tiny Easter basket (a Worm shell, Top shell, Common bubble, Lightning whelk, Common baby’s ear, and Atlantic coquina in a Buttercup lucine basket). For me, nature and art (or even better, combining the two) are essentially equivalent to, or essential triggers for, whatever is meant by “spirituality.”
So the lure of a sunrise Easter service on the beach was strong. I was rewarded with awe: at moonlight on the ocean waves, the silent constellations and the mumur of pre-caffeinated families stumbling along the water’s edge on the way there. Then, during the service, palmtrees silhouetted by pastel dawn, gulls and pelicans swooping and calling above us, the cold of the silken sand beneath me. And on the way home, red and clear jellyfish glittering like ornaments, and a remora washed up–his eye primeval, his chin-sucker a baroque pattern. Life is complex, wondrous, renewing. If you want to call it God, that’s fine with me.
The service itself, the Protestant hymns, the psalms and gospel, did not resonate with me, exactly. I grew up Jewish and still identify myself as Jewish. I did not grow up going to church, so the sensory and intellectual touchpoints are not embedded in my childmind, the mind that remains most open to such emotional cues.
Nevertheless, Easter seems relevant to me. We constantly renew and recreate ourselves and our world, no matter the religion we choose, no matter the religion chosen for us by parents or ancestors. The most powerful part of the service for me was the reflection by the children’s minister. She recounted how in Haiti, children fly kites on Easter, as a symbol of our ability to rise up like Jesus, to soar. Thousands of privileged Americans on a resort beach suddenly turned their thoughts to those Haitian children, standing on the earthquake rubble, clinging to kitestrings, hearts lifting with the breeze. Haiti needs a resurrection. A day devoted to this metaphor seems like a good idea, whether we are Christians or Jews or Muslims or Hindus, or all or none of the above.
Susan Katz Miller’s book, Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family is available now in hardcover, paperback and eBook from Beacon Press.