Rolling Away the Stone of Death

I am staring up at a clear blue morning sky after several days of cloudy, blustery, hail-peppered weather. It is like gazing at a sunrise from the mouth of a dark cave—cold in back but warming in front. On this day before Easter I reflect about being a Buddhist and wonder how I celebrate. How do I respect and learn from this day so many hold as sacred?

My family celebrated a lot when I was young. We ritually dyed chicken eggs and nestled them within Easter baskets we made by tucking fake grass inside wicker bowls with arched handles. We dressed up in our finest clothes to go to church. I remember tugging at the collar of my shirt made tight by a rarely worn a tie. We always had ham for Easter dinner. I didn’t connect with the actual message of the holiday until much later in high school. But, unlike my Christian friends, I saw resurrection as a kind of symbolic rebirth.

Later, I ended up becoming Buddhist-flavored but never really lost a connection with resurrection. It seems common sense that we do not die as a final statement of life. I see the Easter story as a symbol for all of us to roll away the stone of death; to make our rebirth count for something. In the great recycling program we call Buddhism, we have many opportunities to transform our death into something of benefit to all beings. We mingle our minds with with compassion (bodhicitta) and make aspiration to relieve suffering. When we die, we are reborn with the same aspiration.

Perhaps the simple message of Jesus is to maintain continuity with the love we are—even after death. What greater legacy could there be?

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