Sunday, March 27, 2016
A number of readers wrote to wish me Happy Easter, which is nice of them. I appreciate the sentiment even though, truth be told, I'm Jewish, and don't celebrate the holiday in any fashion. Not even with the consumption of a single jelly bean — not on principle, mind you. I'd eat the jelly bean if one were to come my way.
But none did.
Indeed, I didn't realize today was Easter until a few days ago. It sort of snuck up. I hope that isn't insulting — some people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea that other people believe other things. It seemed like a callous neglect.
It might be hard to believe, but growing up, I had no idea what the Easter story was until I saw the movie "Jesus Christ Superstar." Why would I? The subject never arose. It's a moving story, and I can see why people recount it year after year.
One reader, knowing my inclinations, wished me Happy Passover instead. But Passover doesn't come for nearly another month, at the end of April. The two might be twinned in the public mind, like Christmas and Hanukkah, but their occupying the same section of the calendar, roughly, is purely coincidental. I accepted his wishes in the spirit intended.
I wouldn't have marked the holiday, but my pal, Michael Cooke, formerly of the Sun-Times, now editor of the Toronto Star, read my piece today on cemeteries, and sent some lovely photographs I wanted to share. They are of the burial ground and environs outside of St. Mary's Church, in the town of Kirby Lonsdale in Northern England, where he attended services last week.
The church is near the town where he grew up—he has relatives buried here—and parts of it date back to Norman times, making them nearly a thousand years old.
A reminder that this religion stuff has been with us a very long time, and if we approach it with a spirit of respect and appreciation for our fellows, there's plenty of good in every faith. Religion is a tool, one that can be used to ennoble or to tear down—you can use your faith to love others, or blow them up. The Christian faith inspired Easter, and its promise of rebirth, built and tended this gorgeous Anglican church for a millennia. Yet it is the same faith that inspired numerous readers to write in this past week, and not pleasantly, explaining why their religion demands that they care about the birth gender of people using public restrooms, which is just daft.
But let's save that for another day. Happy Easter. I hope it was restful, fulfilling and happy for you. My wife and I spent an hour walking through the Chicago Botanic Garden, and while our lilies and crocuses are not quite as far as they obviously are in Cumbria, we enjoyed observing the Easter finery of the men and women, boys and girls who had come to stroll after church.