Easter was always my favourite time of year growing up. A long weekend with extra chocolate – what could be more appealing? Nature reaches a turning point at last. Birds are busy staking their claim on real estate for the coming season, singing their pitches in the early dawn. Snowdrops make way for crocuses and celandine. New buds arrive daily. In York the city walls have full yellow skirts of daffodils.
Often Easter falls when I’m away on retreat. April 13th is a red-letter day in the Sri Chinmoy Centre calendar – the day Sri Chinmoy came to the West. This year Easter came early, so I spent Good Friday at home, baking hot-cross buns and filling vases with daffodils and purple tulips. In amongst spring freshness and the cosy aromas of spice, I did leave time for reflection though. While painting the dough with white crosses and hearing the full intensity of Bach’s St John Passion, there was no forgetting the day’s meaning.
Though brought up in the UK and US, I was not brought up a Christian. It’s only since following a rather different spiritual path that I’ve come to appreciate the life of Christ, as well as the lives of other Avatars (incarnations of God). In Sri Chinmoy’s words:
“As the true oneness-friend of mankind, Jesus Christ flooded the earth-consciousness with Compassion and Forgiveness. His immortal prayer, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ will forever draw down God’s Compassion and Forgiveness from above for the inwardly hungry and thirsty truth-seekers and God-lovers. Indeed, Jesus’ self-offering life and earth-illumining message will shine bright, brighter, brightest in the aspiring heart and God-loving life of humanity throughout Eternity.”
– Sri Chinmoy, WDNI 23
I try to hear one or other of Bach’s Passions live each year at York Minster. This year instead I’ll see the Mystery Plays in summer – a 700-year-old tradition of theatre, telling the (somewhat condensed) story from creation to last judgement. None of these are West End productions. Perhaps it’s the very fact the casts are made up of local people, and the settings are fondly familiar, that they always bring the story of Christ’s life home to me.
On Easter Sunday I’m thankful for all this new life around me. The old roses are coming into leaf, as well as our latest plantings of greens and berries. Skylarks pipe their epic tales without a pause for breathing. This evening at meditation we’ll sing songs Sri Chinmoy composed for the Christ, and recite some poems he wrote on the theme of resurrection. We’ll no doubt have our share of chocolate afterwards too 🙂
“The beauty of peace
Is being buried every day,
And every day
It has to be resurrected.”
– Sri Chinmoy, AP 25867
“My hope’s resurrection declares
– Sri Chinmoy, FF 109
Please tell me if I am alive.
Resurrect Me first.”
– Sri Chinmoy, MCSB 21