Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

March 21, 2016

The art history prof clicked the remote and a new slide flooded the screen. As always, my heart gasped, but not as much as it did the first time I saw the Pietà.

The professor related how a friend had told her that when she saw Michelangelo's poignant Carrara marble statue of Mary cradling her son Jesus' broken body in St. Peter's Basilica, she burst into tears.

I so understand that.

There was a time when Easter itself would wipe me out. I knew my response was theologically flawed. In fact, it has taken me years of study and experience to reach the point where Easter is what everyone else knows it to be.

Jesus died to save us. That was/is my major stumble. Why would this perfect soul give his life to give someone like me immortality, a place in heaven with God?

This is just one of many facts that illustrates that my faith journey is one long, hard slog. It obviously isn't over yet. In truth, I'll probably still be asking questions and, I hope, finding answers right until I meet St. Peter.

(Already I am making the assumption I shall meet heaven's gatekeeper.)

This Easter, still a bit of a struggle, is being made easier for me for two reasons. The first is Lent. For many, these 40 days mean giving up a favoured custom or treat. That works for them.

CLOSER RELATIONSHIP

For me though, I am sitting down and discovering what I am doing - what habit, flaw, mindset - that keeps me from creating a closer relationship with God. I want to give that up.

The second reason came from someone else whose wise perception I snatched up like a drowning soul reaching for a life preserver.

She told an interviewer she regards Easter as a second chance.

Bingo!!!!

God gave us the gift of the earth and his son. Jesus gave us the gift of his life. We also came into this world with gifts.

This yearly remembrance of Jesus' gift to me now prompts me to ask what am I doing with it.

We all have gifts. The secret is to identify them and develop them to become shining stars in our daily lives.

To most, I may be a Johnny-come-lately to the meaning of Easter. They are right. I came from a childhood of gifts at traditional celebrations.

Easter meant new Easter bonnets (usually a tam). Black patent leather shoes. Chocolate bunnies. Laura Secord Easter eggs. Hurry off to church (Presbyterian).

Then a big Easter dinner of ham studded with cloves and covered with pineapple slices, scalloped potatoes, fluffy white layer cake.

Lent was never mentioned at home. Neither was the crucifixion. Easter, like Christmas, was just another excuse to make merry. Never was the subject of God's gift of his son and Jesus' gift of his life ever brought up.

LEARNING CURVE

I have been on a steep learning curve as I weave Christianity into my life. In my most grateful moments, I thank God from the bottom of my heart for being there even when I did not know his divine presence probably saved my physical life as well as that of my soul.

So here I am at Easter. Yes, the thought of Jesus' death and his mother Mary's grief still tugs at my heart. In fact, I have a miniature sculpture of the Pietà next to a nativity scene in my room at work.

But I also rejoice this Easter because I accept the gift of Jesus' sacrifice. On a more prosaic matter, I am thankful for the fact Easter gives me the physical space to pray and think about Jesus and his place in our lives.

PRAYING, PONDERING

In this scrambled society, finding space to pray and ponder is a rare commodity.

After I wrote this, I went home to find the delightful newspaper Resurrection in my mailbox. The paper is printed by consecrated lay men, women and priests living in Combermere, Ont.

They describe themselves as "a family within the Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to loving and serving Christ in one another and in all men and women."

Come summertime, they will offer a place, through various programs, to those seeking to connect with their spiritual path.

Their address is Madonna House Apostolate, 2888 Dafoe Rd, RR 2, Combermere ON, K0J 1L0. Telephone: 613-756-3713;

Web: www.madonnahouse.org.

There are no coincidences. My term for this type of synchronicity is "angels at work."

Happy Easter to all.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)