As a child of a Protestant farm family, I celebrated Easter as one of the important liturgical days of the religious year. School was out on Good Friday, when we attended interdenominational services. The world darkened as the events of the crucifixion were retold. This was followed by an early morning pilgrimage to a Sunrise Service at the Mound, the glacial deposit that gave our small town its name: Blue Mound. We returned home to look for Easter baskets the bunny had left, and then donned our new Easter clothes, including hats and white gloves, and attended to our country church for the joyful songs of resurrection. After church we kids hunted Easter eggs in the cemetery among the graves of our Irish immigrant ancestors. Newcomers were horrified at this cemetery egg hunt, but our parents defended it, having followed the ritual themselves many years before.
One year it was decided to have the Sunrise Service in the new ground of our church’s cemetery. We were quite excited to have this early morning service commemorating the empty grave at our home church, and my father planted a cross in the slight rise of the hill of this land. The night before Easter, however, a great storm came and lightening struck the cross, destroying it. Heavy rain necessitated meeting in the church instead, and for whatever reason, we never had the sunrise service in this location again. However, my parents chose it for their own burial spot, the events around the burial of their ashes described Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation. (Soon to be republished by Leaping Goat Press on June 1! More soon.)
In this way, I experienced resurrection. Early on, I knew the graves of my great grandparents, finding pastel eggs in the tangled grasses around their headstones. As I grew older, the community’s participation in Easter’s dark hours before sunrise, and then welcoming the Son! always gripped me. In new clothing, we sang the resurrection songs: Up from the grave he arose! With a mighty triumph o’er his foes, He arose Victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever… He arose! The cycle was one of death and despair and then renewal, one I learned to endure and participate in at my various age levels.
Perhaps it was the antecedent of my becoming a Jungian analyst, being intimately steeped in archetypal rituals year in and year out. I feel the importance of resurrection. In ancient times, pagan rituals commemorated the death of the old king and birth of the new, but resurrection is different: it is the death and rebirth within one person, and, at a higher frequency, through the development of the glorified body (subtle body).
In this time our planet suffers from our lack of attention to spirit, our spiritual work has never been more important. Have you found participation in collective rituals around resurrection helpful in your own spiritual growth? I would love to hear.