It’s Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day.
I’ve said it before here, I am not a religious person. I wasn’t raised with religion and much of my knowledge of it as a kid came from a local lady, Nellie Beidelman, who used to come to our little elementary school on a regular basis. We would assemble in the cafe-gym-a-torium ( a space that served all three functions) to hear her tell Bible stories with the aid of a felt board with beautifully painted cut-out figures.
I know it’s not something that could ever take place today in a public school. But she was a very warm, gentle person and a fine storyteller without being preachy. I always found the stories interesting as they introduced me to the classic tales of the Old and New Testament and still vividly remember her telling of the Resurrection. It didn’t make me feel any more inclined toward religion but at least I knew the stories and the lessons that they contained.
I just never had that certainty of belief. I admired it in others and sometimes wished I had it. But that same certainty made me uneasy. What would someone do in the name of their belief, that thing that seemed so certain to them and so distant to me? The news is filled with horrors perpetrated by those with this certainty firmly in place, whether it’s ISIS inspired suicide bombers or radical Fundamentalists killing physicians who have performed abortions.
And reading history doesn’t make this uneasiness with certainty go away. How many of millions have perished at the hands of those who were certain in their beliefs, however misguided and wrong they may seem to us now? Even in doing my genealogy I have come across so many atrocities done by my ancestors in the name of their beliefs that it makes me question the decision to look into the past at all.
That being said, I still sometimes envy those with that certainty and the comfort they seem to find in it. My own beliefs, as they are, are always subject to questioning, always filled tinged with a bit of uncertainty. But they still offer a degree of comfort. Sometimes stopping as I walk and feeling the sun on my skin and gazing into the blue of the sky fills me with a feeling that seems transcendentally reverent in that moment. The outer world fades for a brief second and I seem connected with something greater than this time and place.
That moment is my certainty, that thing on to which I hold as proof of something greater. And that moment once in a great while is all I ask of it.
So, with or without that certainty, whether you observe Easter or any other religion’s activity today, I wish you a great day. But stop once in a while and just feel the sun on your skin and notice the color of the blue in the sky. For this week’s music, here’s one of my all time favorites, Down in the Valley to Pray by the late great Doc Watson. The simple elegance of his voice just carries this song for me.