A plump male pheasant is striding elegantly through the field beside our house as I write this. He keeps ruffling his red and green and chocolate-brown feathers; shedding the rain, maybe, or just showing off. He’s a colorful addition to the landscape this Easter day, but it’s a good thing no hunting is allowed. His bright white neck ring is a can’t-miss bullseye against the spreading green field.
Easter is just another day for us—except for the small excitement generated by news of Melina’s visit from the Easter bunny. But this day always causes me to consider my own beliefs. In some ways they have remained remarkably consistent since childhood, when regular church going was part of the routine, and Easter meant the chance to wear a new dress and patent leather shoes. Mother called on the minister when I mentioned the auras I saw (I thought them pretty), and my belief in reincarnation made the family uncomfortable.
The last Easter service I remember attending was in the early 70s. As Ray and I took our seats in the Unitarian sanctuary the stranger next to me leaned over and asked, “Well, do you believe?”
“Believe what?” I asked
“That Jesus rose from the dead.”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t know either,” he said, “but I’d like to think He did."
Risking heresy, I think we should be paying far more attention to the message and far less to the death of the messenger.
The pheasant in the field has no thoughts about the risen or not-risen Christ on this day, and yet the pheasant is beautiful and whole and perfect and content to be what he is. No organized religion is clambering for his attention or chastising him for his sins (what an old-fashioned word) or governing his morals. He and the stalking cat and the blowing daffodils are free to follow their path to God in whatever way they can.
I think we all have that option.