Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Greetings: Hope, Resurrection, and Kindness

And so this, quite simply, was Steve's and my Holy Saturday celebration: before starting on our trip back home after our Good Friday meeting with my publisher and visit to the Crystal Bridges art museum, we go to Einstein Bros. Bagels for coffee and bagels.  My cousin Bill, who is collaborating with me on the book, comes along with us, as does his mother, a remarkable, spry, full-of-vim senior lady approaching 90.

We sip coffee, enjoy the bagels and cream cheese spreads, talk.  We talk about our respective disappointment with what our several churches--Southern Baptist, United Methodist, Catholic--have to offer us nowadays, which is mirrored by our disappointment at what our political parties in the U.S. want to hand to us.

We wonder how to find and how to follow the calling of Christ each of us feel in our hearts and lives in a world whose institutions often impede, and don't facilitate, our response to that calling.

And as we leave the breakfast gathering, we all see that the car parked beside our car has a bumper sticker which reads, "Kindness is my religion."  We read it to each other simultaneously, as if we have each suddenly discovered that message all at once. 

I say, "That reminds me what Micah says: 'God has shown you what is good: to do justice, to love tenderly, to walk humbly with your God.'"  As I speak the verse, paraphrasing it as I remember it, my cousin's mother nods vigorously, and then says, "Yes!  I've always thought kindness is the heart of all religion.  And I heard a sermon about that very verse at the funeral of Lieutenant--Governor Rockefeller five years ago.  I kept the program because it had the verse from Micah printed on the front, and I wanted to keep thinking about it."

That's our Holy Saturday celebration, that and a longish drive back home in which we talk about my cousin's continued mourning for his wife, who died painfully and far too young of breast cancer several years ago, Steve's perplexity about how to deal with the shunning his siblings continue to dish out to him, since, as they keep communicating to him, good and faithful Catholics are obliged to shun and condemn a gay brother and his life partner.  I share my similar concerns about some of my family members, and the struggle with which Steve and I still contend, the struggle to pay for adequate health care for me when I have no health insurance and his workplace doesn't offer partner benefits.

I remember and talk about something that struck me very much when a friend of mine shared this insight  several years ago: she was talking about a situation in her family in which a child born out of wedlock was shunned and abused by the whole family, because of the circumstances of the little girl's birth.  And after watching this happen to the little girl for some time, my friend gathered the family together and told them, "This little girl may be the person you have to depend on for your last drink of water.  You had better treat her well, if you hope to have someone care for you in your old age."

We drive, talk about all of this, and wonder where hope and resurrection are to be found in the world in which we live.

And we agree that wherever these are found, kindness will--we're certain of this--be at the center of hope and resurrection for us and for others.  Kindness: the recognition that, under the skin, we are all kin of one another, and obliged for that reason alone to aim at kindness, at recognition of our kinship, our shared humanity.

A happy and blessed Easter to each reader of this blog, to all your families: to everyone hungry and thirsty for hope and resurrection.  And kindness.

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