What does Easter mean to you?

Last weekend, I entered a church. Not because I am religious, but because for the first time in my entire life, this church was completely open to visitors.Usually, one can only admire the distant interior from behind a grill. As an art addict, of course I grabbed the chance to wander all over the place.

While I was gaping up at its beautiful ceiling, taking in its statues, watching the art, responding to the vast space, a woman approached me. She was part of the staff and they were asking visitors questions and offering candles to burn.

After apologizing for the intrusion, she asked me what all visitors were asked: “What does Easter mean to you?”

With a head full of great art, this question took me by surprise.

After thinking fast and hard, I blurted out it would mean the end of a fast. It was part of a personal ritual to become more aware of food and drink being precious, not always available.

Though not religious, I prefer to take the Christian fast to try to break a couple of bad habits. It is easy: from Christian Carnival till Christian Easter. Being more heathen than christian, I do not think about Jezus’ trials and sufferings, or the meaning of the Holy Week.

This year, for the first time, it had not been just about certain food and immediate fulfillment of cravings. I had added alcohol to my list again. Surprisingly, it had actually been quite easy this year. Bar the last few days: suddenly, the temptation was there again.

We both agreed, it was less than a week – so quite silly to break the fast now, with only seven days to go.

Next year, my personal ritual will not be about abstaining from certain foods and alcohol. Perhaps cutting out sugar will be added to the tradition.

We said goodbye – but her question popped up each day after our meeting. What did Easter mean to me? Apart from chocolate eggs, bunnies, cute chicks, frolicking lambs, spring, blossoms, nice food and alcohol, days off, having a good time with friends? I couldn’t come up with a decent answer.

Today is Good Friday. For Christians the day Jezus was crucified. Though no Christian, I found myself dwelling on Jezus being tortured and the Christian Easter story.

This in turn caused me to remember Raif Badawi, his fate, his family. With the mother-of-all-bombs and other news grabbing the headlines, his case, his convictions, him being ordered to be flogged on a weekly basis – so being tortured – , his family fleeing .. It seems to have been totally forgotten.

From dwelling on the fate of Jezus, then remembering Raif Badawi, I thought about all the other people imprisoned – too many wrongly convicted and many totally innocent – and being tortured, and being forgotten – regardless of their religions.
Not much I can do to help them, but at least today, I spared them a thought.

So what about you? What does “Good Friday” mean to you? What about “Easter”?

Rembrandt’s idea of Good Friday


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