A few more days till incense, bells, processions of priests who look like they have stepped back in time as well as chocolate overload, roast lamb and family feasting. We LOVE these festivals- no matter what our creed.
But before the feasting and chocolate overload comes the sadness, the sombre tones of Good Friday, hot crossed buns, altars stripped bare, churches bereft of flowers; then the waiting and deep reflection as down to the tomb Christians go and there it is: the unbridled joy of Easter morning. And what a glorious morning it always seems to be!
We love our bells and smells- but why? And why do children love these times so much?
I don’t think it is just the ancient symbol of Easter bunny, delicious chocolate or butter soaked hot cross buns children hang out for. I don’t think it is even the absence of school- although that is certainly a welcome event for many!
Instead, it is the ritual itself, the sense of order, “holy routine”, tradition- call it what you may. This turning of the wheel both comforts us, uplifts us and pushes us to explore the “otherness” inside and outside ourselves.
In this very secular world, so many children are denied the opportunity to explore from a faith perspective with parents feeling that absence of Temple, Mosque or Church will allow more freedom for children to think. I believe it actually has the opposite effect. Children have this deep need for ritual, routine and faith- it is build in to us- sort of like a “God gene”.
We have a time during every teaching session called the GATHERING. Children LOVE this time and hang out for it- and complain loudly if we miss it! During this time we turn the lights down, switch on an enormous red star, sing a motivational song, acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and give out merit certificates.
The children are so quiet and attentive during this time and each day I am reminded of their deep hunger for this sense of tradition, this ancient gathering and the comfort of community.
So- if not a church going family, why not at least light a candle together at dinner time this Easter and tell children it represents the light that love brings into the world? Why not tell them that the chocolate in their Easter eggs is so sweet- just like the sweetness of human kindness and maybe write a few family goals for the coming year? Tell them that eggs are like life beginnings and so are our goals.
Whatever your creed (or lack of), Easter can be a time for renewal- renewal of ourselves, our hopes and visions, our love for each other and our deep understanding of ourselves and this wonderful world we dwell in!
Let’s spread so much love and kindness from this time on that we provide an antidote to the terrible KKK killings in the US, terrorist bombing in Nigeria and all the conflict and evil around us. The light IS stronger than the dark. Darken your rooms this Easter and then switch on the lights and tell your children this is what love can do for the world- it can illuminate every grotty, evil corner and flood it with warmth, comfort and kindness!