This is the first Easter I will be spending apart from my family, without going to church, and without any sort of recognition whatsoever. I will miss seeing my relatives and enjoying their company, but I just didn’t want to do the traveling and have to say “no” ten times to invites to multiple masses, a special Saturday night religious ceremony my family has at dinner, and prayer times. To my family, the point of Easter was not chocolate, ham dinners, bunnies, nor eggs. It was always about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We were always very devoted and serious Christians. And easter used to be my favorite church holiday of the whole year.
I was raised semi-Catholic (never confirmed), and always kept one toe in the Roman Catholic pool. I would visit mass with my mother when she invited me, and my favorite service of any denomination was always the annual Easter vigil mass on Saturday nights (which is going on as I type this now). The late-into-the-night, 5-hour-long service was the high-point of my spiritual year. I memorized the songs as a child, knew the rhythm of the readings by the time I was a teen, and loved every single second. When other kids would be bored and restless, I was excited, attentive, and involved. And I wasn’t even Catholic!
There was a magic in the darkness of the sanctuary, a ripple of excitement when the candles were lit, and a thrumming thrill that flooded the entire church when the gospel readings were read, the lights came on, and the ecstatic songs of praise would ring out. I lived for those moments. I felt so at home, so fulfilled spiritually.
I miss how I felt there while following the readings in the missal, singing harmonies to words I would hum year-round, and clapping and shouting along as the parish praised the resurrection of the messiah. I miss emotions. I miss feeling a part of something that thrilling, uniting and predictable.
Emotions are the driving force in Christianity. Whether it be guilt, joy, peace, anxiety, love, rage… these emotions fuel the actions and decisions of a religious person. They are the proof that what you’re doing is real and righteous. The thrills of the vigil mass were what proved to me that God’s spirit was there–that Jesus was present with us. I know today that emotion proves nothing, but I miss the simplicity of my life when I believed what I felt inside made it all true. Now, it’s up to my mind, reason, and objective observation to show me what may or may not be valid and real. Ignorance was bliss, and this is my very first year without the bliss.
Instead of Happy Easter, I say, “Hasta la vista.”