This image and others similar to it, of Pope Francis washing the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees at the Castelnuovo di Porto refugee center, were among the most powerful of Holy Week, I thought.
I see resurrection here --- and every other time I witness another person doing his or her best to live out the message of Jesus's life --- to love and serve one's neighbors (we all are neighbors) as we would be loved and served ourselves. One needn't be a pope. All rise who love unconditionally and serve others. I wish that I were better at it.
Here's a paragraph written from a Unitarian Universalist perspective (by the Rev. Michael McGee with a far longer story by Jim Wallace at its core) that comes close to expressing my own understanding of this holy day --- and all days are holy --- that many of us will be observing this morning:
“I believe the real meaning of Easter is the appreciation of life’s renewing cycles and, that for all things there is a season. I believe the real meaning of Easter is the acknowledgment, with its accompanying sadness, of a very human Jesus who was forced to die on the cross because of his liberal religious views and beliefs. But most important of all, I believe the real meaning of Easter is the celebration of thanksgiving for the presence of the sacred in each and every living person and thing; for the presence of the sacred in the birds that sing; for the presence of the sacred in the flowers which sway and the grasses which rustle in the gentle breezes of spring. This is what I believe is the real meaning of Easter.”
Coincidentally, this also is my 70th birthday, like all other birthdays a time to count blessings and be grateful.
Ordinarily I wouldn't make such a big deal of religion, but it is a Sunday after all. So I'm grateful to my parents, who taught me that no one falls outside the circle of love; to the Lutherans among whom I was baptized and confirmed and from whom I learned about grace; to the Quakers, from whom I learned about that of god within every element of creation; to the Episcopalians, who have offered unconditional hospitality and given me an appreciation for tradition, liturgy, fine music and the shared meal we call Eucharist; and to the Unitarian Universalists, from whom I learned more about universal acceptance and the joy of an unfettered quest for truth and meaning.
I'm grateful to have been born and raised and now to have returned to this beautiful place where it always is possible with hardly any effort at all to experience the sacred interconnectedness of everything.
I'm grateful to have loved a few good men.
I'm grateful for and profoundly honored by the company I kept in Vietnam, humbled by the lives of 58,000 of my contemporaries who didn't make it home alive. Grateful, too, to have survived myself for no particularly good reason.
I'm grateful to have survived, also for no particular reason other than luck of the draw, the AIDS pandemic, humbled by the lives of hundreds of thousands of my contemporaries lost and immensely proud of those who when forged in that crucible rose to march united toward equality for my LGBTQ people.
I'm grateful that there's still so much to do, so much to learn, that some days it makes my head spin.
And I could go on, but there's a fruit salad to make and I've got to run to the store to pick up a few things for brunch that I forgot yesterday. You'd think that after 70 years I'd have learned enough to make a shopping list. Happy Easter risings!