Eat, Pray, Love
To me, Easter Sunday has always meant a pretty new dress and brunch with my Grandparents. I’ve always had the knowledge that it meant more than fabric and breakfast food, obviously, but the greatest depth of my Easter understanding was a story. It was a story, like many others I hear at church, about Jesus rising from the dead. It was a story to me, like the ones I was read at bedtime or the chapter books I started to read. How would a man, rising from the dead, apply to my life today? I was just a little girl, in a world where there were no crosses, no crowns of thorn, and no living Messiah rising from the dead.
As a second semester senior, I’m taking a class on World Religions, which is apparently supposed to open our eyes to all the religions, and help us find our own answers to big questions like what happens after death or our purpose on Earth.
As someone who wonders and daydreams constantly, I have preconceived ideas of these answers, as well as the ability to see that these questions could not possibly be answered to the fullest extent of the truth (which is just the reason I love to think about them). Some of my answers have to do with what I’ve been taught throughout my life in Christianity. The rules and philosophies I’ve learned for eighteen years in Sunday school and youth groups is what I felt I was supposed to believe. I love my church and I love how it stresses philosophy and giving kindness over rules and proving goodness, like many other sects of Christianity. But I’ve always felt a disconnect with what I was told to believe.
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be good. Not because my parents forced it upon me, but because I wanted to have a relationship with God. Along with my Easter Dress and Sunday brunch, I would read passages from the Bible, or try my hardest every night to remember to pray. I felt safe because I could feel God’s arms around me. I sincerely knew in my heart that nothing bad could ever happen, because there was a greater power on my side, one above all evil and all bad things.
But then I grew up. I learned about biology and evolution, the Holocaust and slavery, and I lost my faith in God. I tried desperately to grab it back, to find that little girl in her Easter Dress, reading the Bible before bed to feel the sense of love and protection she had always craved from Him.
But instead, I was a lost teenager, finding doubt in ways I was taught to never question. I didn’t feel comfort or protection in God anymore. I found issue and uncertainty that could never be proven, no matter what pastor I talked to, or what bible I read.
You might say I looked forward to this World’s Religions Class because I love other cultures and I love philosophy. But you might also say it was because I was hanging on to my last hope of a relationship with God, and finding that good Christian girl that found love and protection where I now felt doubt and uncertainty.
Immediately, I fell in love with Hinduism. All the questions I had in Christianity were answered in this new faith. I felt such a strong pull towards the religion, and the way they viewed life. I love how Hindus see God as part of each person, something more abstract and ineffable than human comprehension. I loved the importance of the human connection, as well as the way they saw problems of the world.
Through the class, I rediscovered my religion. I realized I did not have to feel the way I was “supposed” to feel, or agree with everything the pastor says at church. Now, I feel as though I am a melting pot of religion; pieces of many faiths and philosophies melting deep into the puzzle of my spirituality, claiming different parts of my love and faith. I may not believe in Heaven or Hell, but that does not mean I am not a Christian. I may find faith in Jesus, but that does not mean I am not a Hindu. I am parts of all of these, and through this understanding, I refound my faith, one purely created by my own heart and deep into my soul. My faith was not created by Jesus’ disciples, or recited to me on Sundays. My faith is the making of my soul, the deepest parts of who I am in. I just had to find it.
This year, on Easter Sunday, I will go to church in my new Easter dress. I may not believe pieces of the story, but I finally see that Easter isn’t really a story at all. It is hope, for millions of people all over the world, and it is hope for myself. It’s the recognition of love, overcoming all obstacles. Easter does not have to only be for Christians, since it is not a story, but rather a hope and faith in God, Allah, Buddha, Tao, or humanity.
Now, I am just a girl, believing whole heartedly in this world where there are crosses, crowns of thorn, and a living Messiah rising from the dead, no matter what form they may take.