A Book Journey – Chapter 7: Easter
A monthly book study by Amy McGehee-Lee
Festivals of the Year: A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festive Cycle
by Roger Druitt
At this time of year, in the northern hemisphere, everything exudes the transformative power of the resurrection. Everywhere I turn, I see a new expression of life and often it comes from even the corners of my soul.
Druitt begins this chapter with the historical context of this festival and then moves on to say, “Easter saves the life of the human being and the Earth. But what mankind will do with this redemption is not yet certain.”
Druitt delves into the idea of the resurrection openly admitting there is no proof of its occurrence and asserts that there probably never will be proof. He says that the only “proof” can be found in the experience itself. He goes on to answer the pertinent question of, “How can this experience be obtained?” He says we can gain this experience by changing ourselves through meditation upon the Gospel’s pictures and letting them grow, opening our hearts through this process. I enjoyed Druitt’s comparison of the Gospel to a poem. He says that neither one is proof of anything, but there is nourishing substance within both. He also says that Easter’s power is found in the fact that it is the opposite of natural. Easter changes “the relationship of the human being to nature. It emancipates him from her in order that he can bear her further. Celebrating festivals in the way meant in this book is an important way of making this real.”
All of the concepts presented above left me feeling a bit adrift. Unless I were a practicing Christian, it sounds as though I would be excluded from the authentic celebration of this festival and the bearing up of Earth through the festival celebration. Is there still room for other religions/spiritual paths in this festival, as claimed by Druitt at the outset of our journey? I am always looking for the underlying concept or impulse behind the festivals. For most of the festivals we have covered, so far, I have been able to find that impulse apart from the Christian context used. Is it possible to find this impulse, even within such an inherently Christian-based festival? After some reflection, I found that it is possible for me. I still identify with Christianity to a great degree, so that may, in fact, play a part in my reflections, but it has become increasingly important to me for authentic spiritual teachings to have room for everyone. The impulse behind this festival seems to be the turning point at which we stop drawing upon Earth’s energies and start giving back and “bearing up” the Earth. This requires us to draw into ourselves something beyond what we can find in our earthly realm. We must reach beyond the visible and take in a spiritual renewal and growth, allowing a personal transformation to take place, and then offer it up as nourishment for the Earth. We must feed her out of what we have gained. I truly believe this kind of nourishment can be found and digested through any sincere spiritual practice, be it Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. This, of course, is my own personal take on things and my own way of processing Druitt’s explanation of the Easter festival. What do you think?
Druitt turns now to meditative pictures. He draws heavily upon a series of pictures found within the Gospel. I enjoyed how he described this process of meditation as being a union of the pictures with the soul, allowing the soul to “color in” with its own feelings, which would, of course, grow and change each year.
The author refers to the prayer aspect of this festival as one of “doing rather than thinking.” He says it is important “that all of humanity make the step from the letter of religious doctrine to the reality of the inner empty tomb.” This sounds like freedom to me. Yes, the “inner empty tomb.” I love that imagery. It evokes such joy. We can move from a sense of utter loss and finality to one where possibilities extend to infinity. We can ask ourselves with complete joy, what we have to offer.
I resonated strongly with Druitt’s ideas about the relationship between warmth and the Easter festival. I love the idea of “heart warmth.” I am reading another book right now that has a heart meditation practice. Pulling this kind of warmth into the body is different than physically warming the body, but carries many of the same physical feelings as a result. We can imbue ourselves and the world around us with this heart warmth, especially during this festival. I also enjoyed Druitt’s idea of a shift in perspective in regard to how we perceive a cold wind. He says if we can think of the cold wind on us as being a gift of warmth to others or another region of the world, instead of thinking of it as a loss of warmth for ourselves, this can be help us also be able to “give that subtle warmth out to the world and Man whatever the weather.”
I had never considered the number forty within a spiritual context until now. Druitt says, “Forty is the number for a new impulse to be worked out on Earth: 40 days in the ark, 40 years in the wilderness, 40 weeks of human gestation.”
When I read this, I thought, “how is it that I have never realized the significance of this number before!” Druitt says that Easter also ties into the significance of forty. He says that the fortieth day, in this case, falls on Ascension Day, with day one beginning with the empty tomb. He goes on to say that we can celebrate this same length of time by rearranging something artistically within our own lives, inner world, or biography (for the same 40 day period?). He defines this rearrangement as “rearranging it to make a free, expressive contribution to our inner picture.” I especially enjoyed this specific suggestion: “This could mean making ourselves more aware of those areas of life that have slipped into custom and perhaps making changes to bring life up to the level of our new values.” This seems like a worthy inner work. How many times have I had my heart feel uncomfortable time and again where some small action I perform in my daily life, does not equate with my core values. Druitt’s suggested practice will give me a specific time devoted to thinking about and working to rectify one of these things.
As this chapter closes, Druitt draws our attention to the many different realms upon which the Easter festival has an effect. Some of these ideas were very new to me, e.g. fire spirits. I will look forward to exploring these ideas further and hopefully hearing from some of you, dear readers, in regard to your insights about this significant festival.
I leave you now wishing you warmth, purity of breath and eternal love during this festival period of miraculous renewal.
Posted on April 11, 2017 in Book Study