“We are Easter people in a Good Friday world.” (Barbara Johnson, explained by Anne Lamott. See YouTube ‘Author Anne Lammott interviewed by Steve Carter at Willow Creek Community Church’)
"Betrayals are a natural part of life."
We begin with this dark thought. It isn’t a happy one but we begin anyway because this weekend is testament to its presence in our lives.
Betrayal is a genie for which I have found a bottle given its seemingly insistent presence in my life nowadays. I wish to observe this genie. It is the kind of being that you are initially afraid of. One jumps back a bit at the initial arrival but then at that vantage point you marvel at it, not only because of its looming presence and booming voice, but also because when you place fear aside, you recognise it’s potential to work for you. However, you must be careful of yourself in this context too, because sometimes when you make lemonade out of lemons, confidence can easily transform into arrogance and can result in a reverse outcome.
I look at my bottle, observing the genie in it regenerating at different points in time, hear it ask, "What is your command?" This genie reminds me that the fantastic exists within the mundane.
We cannot ignore breaches in trust. The beginning of our story, from a Christian perspective starts with a breach of trust – apple, word and all. We are meant to pay for that initial act of disobedience but, it is more than just disobedience. It is an act of betrayal, a betrayal of trust. Betrayal brings about the fall of Man and Woman into a Good Friday world, a world comprised of deceit, hopelessness, chaos (in the confusion sense of the word) and general strife. But it is also a place where hope, love and charity also reside.
"We are Easter people," says Barbara Johnson, people filled with hope and happiness, trying to navigate ourselves through the chaotic mess towards a state of harmony and peace once again. Easter Sunday is always on the horizon. The sun is always going to re-appear over the horizon.
The Garden of Eden continues to be a fascinating space, a space to which we must aspire through the experience of disruptions and splinters. Steeped in a tradition where sin and punishment are foreign concepts, Eden becomes for me, a mental state - a place where animal instincts and human are in perfect harmony, where male and female energies co-exist, where there are no us and them but rather a balance of spiritual energies.
There is no good or bad says Hindu philosophy. I admit that I have grappled long with this concept. It is an opponent over which I had not triumphed. Until a few weeks ago. It was not so much of a triumph as it was an "aha!" moment.
During the last two weeks, a 21-day exercise in grace and gratitude, brought about an interesting change of perspective with regard to my grappling match. Not exactly in these words, but to paraphrase Deepak Chopra’s words, "Think about positive and negative experiences as guests in your home. Welcome all of them with a sense of gratitude for being there." Suddenly the perspective shifted because as much as we may not like some of our guests at times, we are taught to treat them with respect and grace.
This week, listening to one spiritual guru and I heard what I felt to be another perspective-shifting thought. "There is no good and bad. There are only happy people and miserable people. And miserable people bring their own unhappiness on themselves. Let them be. Every time you, however, react in anger, you un-choose yourself and dismantle your own work."
The advice is a much repeated one, one with which most of us will be familiar. The idea of "un-choosing ourselves," however, gives the lesson a new colour. As I wrote last year, we place someone else at the centre of our story when we react in anger and make ourselves the peripheral character. But I must remain the main character in my story.
Where Judas’ character has been vilified, Judas is a necessary element in the story of resurrection. Should we think of him as betrayal personified, then betrayal becomes a necessary tool for rejuvenation because the way I see it, resurrection makes the resurrected even more powerful. The collective energy of grief and anger that arises out of a betrayal manifests itself in a firmer and stronger energy of will and determination. And with this also comes the belief in possibilities because miracles (and genies) are representative of the the human imagination functioning at its height.
Wishing everyone a holy and peaceful Easter weekend.