I’m not religious. I don’t talk about religion often because my blog is not the place for it and I think that for every reason I found to become Atheist after years of being very passionately Christian, someone has similar if not the same reasons for becoming or staying Christian, Muslim or other.
But it’s Good Friday today. My body and mind still honors in some way, the Christian holidays. I always find myself reflective during “holy week”. Perhaps the fact that my religious experiences started early and are tied together, part and parcel, with the darkness that enclosed a lot of my childhood experiences contributes to both my atheism and my continuing honor of the holidays. Remembering the prayers and devotion, the guilt and the silence, the practices, unanswered questions fills me with a kind of sadness for the innocence of youth that I felt I lost and also the devotion to something bigger that I can’t help but still feel is a beautiful thing. Conflicting feelings to say the least.
I think of all the years I celebrated Easter with my family, the fun we had as children dye-ing eggs and making paper baskets. I remember my parents making us dress up and my early tomboyish self loathing white patent leather shoes.
I remember dancing. When I first moved to LA I danced for a very progressive Christian church. Dancing on Easter Sunday one year, I was supposed to choreograph a solo but found I couldn’t. So I showed up and let my body dance intuitively when the lights and the music were on. People wept and I felt the closest I’ve ever felt to having answered questions. I remember the truth and connection of feel my body move strictly on impulse. I’ve found that since when I dance but only in those instances when there’s an audience, a bit of fear, music and lights – the synchronicity just happens.
But mostly today I’ve thought of my Grandfather. A year and a half ago I participated in his last rights by his parish priest. As I listened to the prayers he was saying to us I felt an intense anger. I looked over at my Grandfathers eyes and he was looking straight back into mine. I thought, how dare this man reduce my Grandfathers life down to forgiving his sins. Is that all we amount to at the end of the day, all our tragedies and triumphs, all the times we kiss our children’s scrapes and cry over lost lovers or broken things, all our dreams and desires and we’re nothing but kneeling, simpering sycophants asking to be forgiven our mistakes? Grief brings out so many different emotions and thoughts. Then I just wanted, god help me, I just wanted my Grandfather to die. I saw him bedridden, unable to speak or feed himself , he just stared. That’s not life, that’s purgatory, or hell. And when he did it took me a while to cry because it felt right for him to be dead after all the suffering. But now a year later on a Good Friday run, I’m remembering the last Easter I spent with my Grandfather and all the holidays. I’m remember him dancing with me in the kitchen when I was 14 and in the midst of an anorexic summer of angst. I just remember his presence and I feel an instant gut-wrenching sadness and tears start to stream down my face.
I can’t believe after all this time I still, STILL, don’t understand death at all. I could tell you I’m not afraid of dying because I’m not. Everyone does eventually and no one knows what it’s like, why should I be afraid? But I still can’t rectify why death of our loved ones should be so painful, how the loss hits you at different times in different ways. Death is a part of life, all our loved ones will die, so how can we go on if it is so tragic?
I guess that is why I still, in some way, celebrate Easter and Good Friday. I think today is about loss, the universal nature of loss and grief. The beauty of how that connects us to all other people, how that levels the humanity playing field, that deserves a moment of reverence, a day of respect in my life. I celebrate Easter because buried into my heart I recognize how beautiful it is to believe in a kind of love that would result in someone laying down their life for you, throwing themselves in front of a bullet for you even if you had betrayed them. It’s the kind of love I believe Dan and I have for each other and will have for our children. It’s family love at it’s finest.