Easter was late in April in 2000, of course, but I figured now would be a good time to talk about both the spring holidays, especially since we're now half-way between then and Ostara.
Easter, surprisingly, was really meaningful for me that first year at school. Surprisingly because, as you might imagine, very few people celebrated the Christian holidays. Campus life as a whole tended to ignore them. My family celebrated Easter, but kind of half-heartedly, and I wasn't too disturbed when I actually forgot about Easter all together until someone mentioned it was tomorrow. There was a non-denominational service scheduled in Chapel Hall, and was I going? Well, I decided to go, mostly so I could tell Mom I went--I knew she worried about me, some. And it was quietly amazing.
I won't describe the whole service--it wasn't long, nor was it particularly unusual as such things go. It was jointly lead by two of the more senior students who happened to be ordained Christian ministers. There were maybe ten or fifteen of us there. To my surprise, three attendees were staff; Charlie, Alan, and Kit. Masters tended to hide themselves when they weren't working. Kit was a particular surprise, since she is overtly Wiccan, and sometimes seemed mildly hostile to Christianity, but there she was, the sunlight from the big chapel windows setting her red hair aglow.
Maybe it was the lovely light, or the once-familiar familiar Scriptural passages and hymns that moved me--I hadn't thought much about Christian teachings, and the old words reminded me pleasantly of childhood. On the other hand, maybe what did it was hearing the words as an adult, with a fresh mind. Either way, what struck me finally was not the Easter story itself, which somehow failed to move me at all, but something else, something I hadn't really noticed before. I couldn't put my finger on it, it was like a light, brighter and clearer than sunlight pierced everything. I'm not sure I can explain it, now.
After the service was over, I just sat there thinking for a while as the others got up and left. When I finally got up, I found that Kit had waited for me at the door of the auditorium.
"Penny for your thoughts?" she asked, falling into step with me.
"I dunno," I told her. "I just don't get the big deal anymore about the tomb being empty. Is that weird?"
"Not to me," she answered, "though I'm probably the wrong person to ask, if you're Christian. What do you think about death?"
I had Kit in class, and I spoken to her a few times, but never in any depth. She didn't know very much about me, nor I about her. I thought she was cute, not to the point of actually being interested (as a professor she was clearly off-limits, anyway), but just a sort of background cuteness that made talking to her about anything pleasant. Even when she asked what I thought of death, it didn't sound morbid or frightening, just another part of a bright, sunny spring day.
"I don't know," I told her. "I don't think about it much. But...it doesn't scare me. I think maybe something would be missing if it didn't exist." She nodded.
"Birth, for one. Movement, time," she suggested. When we came out of the building and found Charlie, Alan, and a student named Sue, I tried not to be sorry that my private conversation with Kit was over.
"The thing I miss about smoking," Charlie was saying, "is it gave everyone a reason to stand around outside together. You remember that, Alan? I wish all my favorite vices weren't so bad for me."
"I remember when you smoked," Alan said. "I never did. Hi, Kit, Daniel. Do you go by Dan or Daniel?"
"Daniel, mostly," I replied. "If a vice weren't bad for you, would it be a vice?"
"Vice, from Latin, vitium," Alan answered, "means fault or blemish. So, no, technically, I guess a vice does not have to be bad for you, merely an example of you being bad?"
"But we're not speaking Latin!" objected Charlie.
"Then do we have no vices on Easter?" Kit asked, merrily, ignoring him. "Jesus took them away! I imagine him walking off with all of humanity's dents and dings...though what does a dent look like without a thing to dent?"
"You're confusing levels," Charlie told her. "When the esoteric is treated as worldly, both are distorted."
"But I like the world!"Kit replied, hotly, her teasing, almost flirtatious banter suddenly acquiring an edge. "Look at you, sounding like a Christian!"
"I will not tell God where he isn't!" Charlie replied, with a similar edge. Something was happening.
"Touchy, touchy," Alan admonished, clearly teasing them both for whatever hardened their talk. Kit and Charlie both smiled and the tension eased for a moment. Both glanced at Sue and I, as though remembering we were there.
"It's not that I'm against Jesus," Kit told me, with some slight self-consciousness. "He was a very wise man, and I wish more people really followed his ideas. I have a problem with the concept of sins being paid for by his sacrifice. Forgiveness inherently includes judgment; you can't tell someone their sins are forgiven without telling them they're a sinner, right? You have to buy into the guilt and shame trip--unless the sinner is a rich white man. Then the rest of us are supposed to just be meek and wait to inherit the Earth, because Jesus already paid for the guy's sins. It's just too convenient. I mean, what kind of god sends rain to the just and unjust alike?"
"The kind of god that sends the rain," Charlie answered.