An Agnostic’s Orthodox Easter

This past Sunday we celebrated Easter.  jb and I both grew up in the Orthodox church which follows the Julian calendar.  While most Christians follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrated Easter back at the end of March, Orthodox Christians are celebrating Easter and Bright Week this week – and we are joining them.

I’m still figuring out what role religion plays in our lives exactly – I think for many queer people, a relationship with religion can be complicated.  Sometimes I think that I want to keep our holidays purely secular and based on celebrating the passing seasons.  I’d like to think of them as a way to maintain tradition and take advantage of the times that most of our country is celebrating.  Sometimes I want to acknowledge something bigger than this life.  I just don’t always know what that is.  How much does tradition really count when you aren’t sold on the premise?

For now, we are continuing to celebrate Easter and Christmas. We are doing our best to convey the beliefs behind the holidays to the kids, while also making it clear that people believe many different things and it’s ok to not know exactly what you believe.  I also hope that we are modeling the ability to make traditions our own.  I’m heading up the seasonal and more secular traditions – for example dying eggs and planting our garden – and jb is taking the lead on the religious and church affairs.  (Although we had to abort our midnight Easter service excursion this year because we made the mistake of putting pjs on the kids thinking it would be fine to wake them up at 11 to dress them in church clothes – ha.  Next year back to putting them to bed in the clothes they will wear to church.)

We spent the day at my brother-in-law’s home.  The kids had an egg hunt (yes, Zoe could crawl to find some obviously placed eggs all on her own!), we shared a delicious meal, and Leo played (and won) his first game of Uno.  It was lovely.

Leo is pretty much taking holidays – all holidays – at face value.  Although he does have plenty of questions about church, which we do our best to answer.  I’m not looking forward to the day when Leo has questions about religion’s role in advocating against families like ours – but I think he will be able to understand that there is good and bad in most things in this world.  We just need to seek out the good.  If the good doesn’t outweigh the bad, then that’s not for you.

If or when he asks why I was okay making religious-based holidays and visits to church a part of our life despite not being sure what I believe and knowing that politically, the “religious” right has not been a friend of ours, I will point to the underlying message of love.  I will point to all the wonderful and kind people of faith in our lives.  I will point to the comforting belief in something bigger than yourself – whether that is god, community, or the universe – can provide. I hope he will see that those advancing hate in the name of god are the ones that are wrong.

“The Gospel message of the Resurrection is as simple as it is radical: We are called to stand for love where hatred persists, to preach compassion where injustice abounds, and to insist on dialogue where division prevails.” –Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

[Cross-posted from West Philly Mama.]

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