Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Sun, Mar 27 2005

What Came First? The Incense Or The Egg?

It's an interesting season on our planet. As I write this, it's the day most of us know as Easter Sunday, and the day is full of sunrise services and hunts for colored eggs and cakes shaped like lambs. Easter has always been a strange holiday to me. As a child, it was the time of year when kids in the Roman Catholic school system had to endure a long afternoon of The Stations of the Cross. I always suffered from the incense and other details that the adults somehow must have thought would lead us all to salvation. I ended up feeling bewildered and outside the whole experience. I can still remember counting the stations in my head and choking on the incense and waiting for the end. When people went wild for incense in the height of hippiedom I thought they had gone mad. All the stuff did was close my airways. Incense never had any spiritual significance for me except feeling the need to be rescued before I choked to death.

I usually had a new hat for Easter and sometimes a new dress and shoes. I don't know why, but it was considered a rather important thing then to go shopping for (or have made) a new outfit to wear to church. We colored eggs and had chick-shaped marshmallow candies and always had to have ham and German-style coleslaw and potato salad (made with some of the colored eggs) for late lunch after mass. To this day I have no idea why some people eat ham on Easter Sunday.

Young children probably don't really understand the symbolism of incense and the cross and more than they really understand the symbolism of dyed eggs and big bunnies that leave mysterious baskets full of goodies. I've been told that abstract thinking doesn't kick in for most children until the years just prior to puberty. But as adults we have a tremendous capacity to bring up memories that are associated with strong sensual experiences. The scent of incense causes my chest muscles to constrict. The smooth touch of an egg reminds me of my mother smiling and teaching me how to lift the egg out of the dye. The sight of chocolate-covered egg-shaped marshmallow candies brings to mind my father and I shopping together to find them in cartons. Because of past associations, It would be pretty tough for anyone reading this to convince me that the incense was the correct symbol.

When I hear people discuss the idea of mixing pagan symbols and Christian symbols I'm confused, because this is exactly what Christ did when meeting people. He pointed out anything at hand to let people know their lives could be changed if they would put their future completely into God's hands.

I'm glad that smart adults know that the pleasant experience of an egg hunt together can instill a lot more spirituality than a sermon on the evils of a pagan egg hunt. As the saying goes, religion is better caught than taught.

posted at: 08:56 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!