By Tim Kalinowski
With all the rushing around after candy, the omnipresence of the Easter Bunny and the darling little pictures of baby animals, chicks and spring flowers, one would think Easter was a celebration of the joys of childhood and springtime innocence. In one way it is, of course, but Easter is also about encouraging a renewal of spirit, a commitment to good works and engaging in practices that are affirming of life and the soul.
In recent decades this powerful, underlying meaning has become more and more obscured by material excess and powerful marketing campaigns driven by multi-national chocolatiers, many of whom rely on the exploitation of child labour in Africa to pick their cocoa beans at the lowest possible price to present shiny packaged chocolates to the children of middle class families right here in Canada. A child giving to a child, but hardly a fair exchange.
Putting these matters aside, Easter has always represented a call to do good works in the world, as well as right here at home, to help others less fortunate than ourselves. Something hardly referenced anymore in the popular literature, films or in the discussions of our day and age.
Let me be clear, there is no reason people should not enjoy a fun-filled Easter egg hunt with their kids. No reason they should not enjoy a fine, laid-out Easter supper among family members. But there has to be a space somewhere amidst all these activities to think about others less fortunate, and to think about our own spiritual life in the world.
As the poet William Blake says in his amazing poem “Holy Thursday” about the impoverished children of London attending an Easter mass in the early 19th century, which still holds true today:
“Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.”