More to Easter than chocolate

March 30, 2018

Easter: Is it really all about chocolate, bunnies and camping?

Once again the time of year arrives when the unspoken divisions among us become apparent.

And I am not talking here about whether ball tampering is plain wrong or whether it was just wrong to get caught.

I am talking about Easter.

Is it really all about chocolate, Easter Bunny and camping on the Murray?

If this is in fact the case, then the question still remains — what are we doing all this stuff for?

Perhaps I am digging too deep.

Chocolate tastes wonderful, cuddly bunnies are cute, children love them both, and that is all there is to it.

After all, are we not a nation of pragmatic campsite builders unbothered by philosophy and explanations?

We probably are, but that still does not explain the significance of the next few days and why it is a national holiday across the Western world.

The commercialisation of Easter, as with Christmas, has risen like a vast floating meringue to envelop all our holiday hours with sugar and prettiness.

The loss of meaning in daily life is nothing new.

It was recorded by Matthew Arnold in his sad poem Dover Beach, published in 1867, in which he listens at night from his bedroom window to the sea and compares the receding tide to the retreat of mystery and faith from daily life.

‘‘The Sea of Faith/Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore.’’

The dwindling significance of the great Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter down the decades has meant that for most of us there is nothing left but the great sugary meringue.

This may be fine for some, but for those who want some meaning in their lives, it does not have to be this way.

Easter may be a time for families to be together and to enjoy chocolate bilbies and bunnies, but it does contain a powerful message of death and renewal for everyone.

If a literal interpretation of the death and resurrection of Christ is too much to take, then the story of his betrayal, sacrifice and death leading to the renewal of his message still contains a powerful metaphor.

What we do in life can carry meaning beyond our lives.

People who argue about the historical details of the shroud or the weight of the stone or if UFOs were present are missing the point.

Religious festivals in a non-religious world still provide time and space to be together and celebrate the ties that bind, as well as all the love and sacrifice it has taken to get us to this point in our lives.

Of course, many people can’t be bothered with any of this and prefer to keep throwing balls, or hunting chocolate eggs and making campfires.

But for those who live a secular but examined life, religious holidays can still provide space for reflection, however brief, on the paths we have taken, the choices we have made and what the future may hold.

So a happy Easter to you — and may you find a moment to reflect and to raise a glass to life and love.

Meanwhile ... there is a giant chocolate bunny wrapped in plastic on my desk.

It appeared overnight and looks evil and absolutely packed with meaning.

John Lewis is chief of staff at The News.

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