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Our Views: Spring of renewal

Easter’s message of redemption is welcome in a world and a time in need of a fresh start

POSTED: March 31, 2013 1:10 a.m.

Easter Sunday has dawned, with many planning to attend church services today, or have just returned from them, with a day of egg hunts, baskets of candy and family dinners ahead.

Amid those trappings, let’s keep in mind that the true lesson of this holiday is redemption, the chance to begin anew. This is the symbolism of the holiday arriving in spring, when nature renews itself, offering us the chance to do the same with our lives.

It’s no accident that the date for Easter changes each year based on the vernal equinox. Spring is the time of hope, rebirth and new life, predominate themes of the Easter season. Even those who are not of the Christian faith have reason to celebrate the eternal promise offered by the coming of another spring season.

The idea of such renewal is important. So often in life, we wish we had a “reset” button to start over — in our jobs, our relationships, our health choices, all of the thoughts and actions that drive us. How many times have we thought, “I wish I had that to do over,” or “I wish I hadn’t done that.” It is human nature to want to turn back the clock and start fresh.

If only our society as a whole could pull this trick. Our politics and worldwide conflicts often are triggered by incidents or disputes that, if we could roll back the clock, could be forestalled. Instead, one side acts, others react, and the die is cast.

If only someone had kept those terrorists off the planes. If only that oil well had been inspected in the Gulf. If only someone had headed off those mentally disturbed young men who shot up a school and a movie theater. If only someone had kept that drunk driver off the road or evacuated ahead of the storm.

Had our nation’s leaders seen the economic and financial crisis of 2008-10 coming, so much pain and heartache could have been headed off. Renewing an economy takes time, so much time that it’s still slowly coming around from the lengthy recession, and while many continue to look for work, better jobs or find a way to pay their mortgages or medical bills.

But few actions can be rewound, however we may wish it so. All we can do is make personal changes to limit the damage. This is worth doing because the power of forgiveness is both surprising and enduring. We think we can’t fix what we have broken through our angry words or acts. But we find time and again that by making better choices, we can heal our psyches, bodies and reputations.

We know that all of us have the potential for good and evil within us. Most of us teeter in the middle between the two, while some sway heavily one way or another. This is why our prisons and jails remain full of those who have made the wrong choices. Yet they are offset tenfold or more by those in our community who make our world better by building Habitat houses, delivering Meals on Wheels to lonely seniors, serving as Court-Appointed Special Advocates for abused children, caring for homeless pets and offering their service and treasure to those in need.

The work of the good offsets the bad. That remains the basis of Easter, which began with the teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice and rebirth was intended to wipe clean the slate of sin and inhumanity that marked the world of his time.

Scripture tells us Christ’s life atoned for the sins of mankind. Yet in the 20 centuries since he lived and preached, the world has continued to pile up its share of hate, war, crime, pain, discrimination, intolerance and abuse, and it continues today. Whether it’s the horrors of slavery, the Holocaust, genocide or jihad, hatred bubbles up anew with each generation.

That’s why we need the hope of Easter to provide a yearly chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Renewal, rebirth, redemption. A chance to make it right.

We can’t, by ourselves, control the movement of nations and armies, nor the rise and fall of the economy, the markets, business and the job market. All we can do is make our own personal effort at renewal, in big and small ways. It comes in the way we treat others, at the supermarket line, in traffic, and when encountering those who need our help. It’s in the way we interact with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. And in the way we view ourselves by stepping back to see the person we project to the world.

That hope for redemption keeps us going, realizing we can put down the bottle, the smokes, the drugs and the fattening foods and better ourselves. Without such hope, there is only the struggles of today, the lost causes of yesterday, and a single path we have set for ourselves. Easter offers a road with many forks and detours we can choose.

Today as we pray, munch on chocolate and deviled eggs and savor our Sunday gatherings, we can take to heart the promise of renewal that lies before us.

Happy Easter, to one and all, Christian and non, and all who take to heart the spirit of this day. We offer our prayers to all and hope you all carry the blessings of this day forward through the spring and other seasons to come.


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