By Edith Morgan
Is it really spring at last? It must be because I was out raking today, and beneath the debris of winter, I found green shoots pushing up from beneath the dead leaves. But the true feelings of spring for me come gradually – when we begin collecting white eggs, some to be blown out or kept whole, depending on whether they were just be painted, or whether they would become real works of art to be preserved, or given away to family and friends.
Here in my home we celebrate many spring traditions: my mother was a convert to Judaism, but maintained some of her favorite traditions, in addition to celebrating Passover in my father’s Reform Jewish tradition. And so for our family, this season meant eggs, baskets, and flowers of all kinds: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, violets, and tulips. But it also meant a celebration of freedom, and a retelling of the story of Passover, and participating in the special rituals associated with that great Jewish holiday. I have participated in many Seders over the years, but one in particular sticks in my memory: It was many years ago, and several of the participants have passed away; but it was special and different in that it was an interfaith celebration, bringing together Christians and Jews, to share the rituals and foods that are associated with traditional Passover holidays, and to better understand what they mean. I recall being asked to read passages of the service and feeling the words more deeply than I had before, at home, year after year. Sharing them with people who had not been brought up with these traditions forced me to think more profoundly about what they meant, and how to explain them. (We are always told that you do not really master something until you try to teach it to someone else!)
Of course it is no coincidence that major religions all have some kind of holiday to celebrate the end of the long winter, the return of warmer weather, subtle changes in the color around us, and best of all, seeing our neighbors again, after a long winter hibernation. And we all have to grow SOMETHING – the urge is strong to watch something develop – even if it is just a plant on the window sill. Or a forced forsythia branch brought in to bloom ahead of its outdoor brethren. Even shopping is different: there are bulbs for sale amid the groceries, and clothing is lighter and brighter.
But best of all, I always feel a surge of optimism, renewed energy, and hope – is it just the longer days, more sunlight, more life all around? Whatever it is, the holiday rituals at this time of year always conspire to inspire us. Happy Easter and joyous Passover to all of you!!!