As proof we’re ready for a new season, the dead grass
has been raked from our lawns and what’s left of our
wood piles says we’ve made it through another winter.
Yes, the earth has been warm and gentle with us of late, as
we begin a new cycle in which we affirm through our own work
how much that’s a part of who we are and how we see
ourselves. As much as our families or our relationships with
everyone our lives touch, that’s what makes us human,
and capable of appreciating the miraculous improbability of
our species’ continued existence. Somehow, we’ve
all made it through to spring.
This is the season we celebrate Easter and Passover, the two
great redemption stories of our shared cultural history. The
first celebrates personal redemption, the second the deliverance
of the collective, and they both celebrate the redemption
of time and existence from the unfathomable infinite. What
makes them great stories is that they’re true. And what
makes them true isn’t that they actually happened exactly
as they’ve been told but that irrespective, they describe
events that are eternally and internally true. So whether
one believes these stories as we normally understand belief
isn’t a central point of either, any more than it bears
on the reality they speak to. What’s true about both
is the message of redemption and deliverance, however each
of us understands those things.
Easter is the story of the death and resurrection of the Christ.
And whether one understands that as a singular event in time
or an expression of divinity told in many ways through human
history, that story remains central to the human experience.
Also central, Jesus’ message of the redemption of humanity
through love has, more than any other perhaps, shaped our
collective worldview for the better part of 20 centuries.
Passover similarly, the story of divine redemption of the
Jewish people, also speaks to the universal aspiration of
deliverance. And both stories, of course, are intertwined
branches of the same religious tradition. Both branches bear
exactly the same relationship to each other as Buddhism’s
origin in the Hindu tradition does, or countless other instances
where a new message has proven as enduring or perhaps more,
than the garden from which it grew. Our traditions are worthy
ones; they deserve our respect. That’s true even if
we ourselves come to understand them differently than our
grandparents or theirs may have.
This spring, we hope everyone finds a way to engage a sacred
dimension of the world around us, and a common sense of the
strong and basically wise communities we share. We are all
extraordinarily fortunate to call this place home. There will
in all likeliness, be division enough to go around; there
always has been. How we deal with these things is a reflection
of who we are, and the extent to which we allow them to define
us is a measure of how much we’ve yet to learn. Perhaps
this will be a brighter spring than others, we’re guessing
it might be, certainly it can. Sometimes our job here is just
to remind people it is possible to do better than we might
expect; it’s the only thing that makes higher expectations
possible or reasonable expectations attainable.
Looking at our county’s governance, our economic climate,
and the long-term changes impacting our region, there is positive
direction in the winds. At the same time, looking at our development
pressures, our tax and infrastructure issues, our school system
and so on, there are also reasons for concern. We hope as
people focus on all of these issues, they’ll be doing
so with an eye towards what’s possible, what’s
reasonable, and where we can come together.
This week we’re learning that one of our most important
communities in the fellowship of belief, St. Francis de Sales
Parish, is facing difficult changes including the permanent
closure of its facilities in Boiceville, West Shokan, and
Allaben. Over five hundred of us will be directly impacted,
though how isn’t entirely clear yet. As our region’s
Catholic community now begins to assess and plan for its future,
we ask everyone who may be able to help or offer support in
any way to be a part of that process, and to reach out to
the parish community at email@example.com.