Easter, again. Sunshine and daffodils, the promise of new life after a long, dark winter. In the Unitarian church where I was raised, Easter meant getting flowers and wearing a new outfit, navy blue with white polka dots, red shoes and a matching hat. The Easter bunny brought colored eggs and jellybeans and lots of chocolate.
This year, though, I was challenged to think about the deeper meaning of Easter in our Unitarian Universalist tradition. In her excellent sermon on Sunday, our minister Kaaren Anderson preached on resurrection and the ways in which we resurrect one another through acts of kindness and love. She said that resurrection is what we do, not what we believe, but I think there’s more to it than that.
In our church we often say, when someone has died, “To live in hearts that love is not to die.” These past few months I’ve struggled against this easy-sounding phrase, one I have so often written on sympathy cards. A dear friend from my college days died in January and it simply feels too glib, too facile, to say that loving hearts make her untimely death less awful. Much as I cherish her memory in my heart, I miss her gentle, caring presence in my life.
But something else happened recently that’s made me believe that loving hearts do create their own kind of immortality. Putting my granddaughter to bed one evening, I felt a sudden surge of love from my own grandmothers – who both died too young – and an awareness that they had loved me with the same fierce devotion that I feel for Evelyn. During Kaaren’s Easter sermon, I understood that their love is resurrected in me, and that love is both giving and receiving – it goes both ways.
The blessing is that the love we give – to our friends and family and the world – resurrects us as well as them. It keeps us alive in the world, as long as we keep loving and the circle of love expands.