Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Easter Week

Reflections on Good Friday

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I wrote this back in 2012, but it still reflects my thoughts on Good Friday, and why Western culture still finds it meaningful. See what you think.

And oh, yes…I know today is Good Friday. (Why d’you think I’m reblogging this, hm?)

Barb Caffrey's Blog

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day Christians observe Jesus’s crucifixion.  It can be a very depressing day, partly because the idea of anyone being crucified for any reason is abhorrent, mostly because Jesus is adjudged one of the best people who’ve ever walked the face of the Earth even by most non-Christians.  (Of course, Jesus is seen as the Son of God by Christians.)  But he died via crucifixion, in agony, despite his goodness/divinity.

Yet for whatever reason, most non-priests would rather speak of Easter than Good Friday.  Granted, Easter is a much easier holiday to speak of as it’s a day of celebration, forgiveness, and hope.  (I wrote about Easter last year.)  It’s a day that should be celebrated.  But we also need to consider the importance of the day that preceded Easter — the day made Easter possible.  That day is Good Friday, one of the worst days in the history of the world . …

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 25, 2016 at 6:38 am

Easter Week Thoughts: Carrying Each Other’s Burdens

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Is it possible for human beings to comprehend that other people have burdens, too?

Sure, we know our own burdens — the problems we carry mile after mile, day after day. They’ve become so much a part of us, it goes without saying…they’re just there, and we keep on shouldering them because we know no other way.

But we don’t always know what burdens the other person is carrying, just as the other person doesn’t know our burdens.

Yes, there’s a way around this problem. You can ask what’s going on. Maybe you can help shoulder the load for a while, if the other person allows it…if the other person lets you reach inside, so you can see them in the same way you see yourself.

Because it’s Easter Week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I know all sorts of people, and every one of them has problems. Some are more profound than others; some are of more immediate concern than others, too. But every single last one of us has problems.

Buddha recognized that, in his time. So did Jesus Christ. So did other notable religious figures…it’s one of those universal truths that everyone respects, but no one knows how to solve. (Though Buddha’s dispassionate look at suffering is certainly worth a try, to be sure.)

Is it possible for us to carry each other’s burdens? Can pain be halved, if someone else knows of it and cares about you and wants to relieve your burden(s)?

I hope so. I believe so. But I don’t know for certain.

What I do know, for certain, is that if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you — or worse, you can’t talk about what’s bothering you — for most of us, that pressure builds and builds like heating food inside a pressure cooker. Eventually, as in the pressure cooker, that heat is going to escape…and it might escape in all directions.

That’s why discussing your problems, discussing your pain, discussing your burdens, can give comfort and peace even if there’s no ready solution for any of them.

Try not to be upset if you need to unburden yourself. Why?

Two examples:

  • Mother Teresa talked of how depression could overcome her, in her diaries. (In her case, she was definitely unburdening herself to the Higher Power.) She gained comfort and clarity from this, and was able to go back to her work with the poor of Calcutta with a lighter heart.
  • And Jesus Christ, the night before he was taken to be crucified, seems in retrospect to have wanted his friends to know he was aware of his fate and accepted it. (If that doesn’t show just how much comfort can be gained by discussion, I don’t know what will.)

Maybe this is why unburdening yourself to a friend tends to help, even if your friend cannot solve your problem(s) for you. By doing so, you remind yourself that you’re not alone, and that someone else cares about you and the burdens you carry.

That, to my mind, is an important thing to keep in mind. Especially during Easter Week.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 22, 2016 at 4:18 am

Easter Week Odds and Ends

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Folks, I’ve been engrossed in several major projects this week, which is why I haven’t had much time for blogging.  That said, it’s Easter Week and there are several topics I’d like to discuss — so let’s get to it.

First, there have been a number of stories recently about good deeds that have gone viral.  (This particular phrase is vexing in and of itself, mind you.  “Gone viral” used to discuss epidemics, not Internet usage.  But I digress.)  The latest one is about a family who had their meal “comped” at Olive Garden in Vernon Hills, IL . . . and of all things, people are actually posting comments saying this particular complimentary meal was a stunt by the public relations firm that represents the Olive Garden chain.

Look.  I really don’t understand the motivation behind people posting every single thing that happens to them online, as if it’s not real unless it’s discussed on the Internet.  But I’ve seen story after story lately about good deeds (such as the forty dollars left by an anonymous person on a windshield because a woman had a “half my heart is in Afghanistan” bumper sticker on her car), all of which have been picked up after some individual posts a story online — usually at Reddit or Twitter or Instagram, or any of the services that allow you to post a picture and a short caption of what’s going on.

I adore stories about good deeds.  Yet there’s something about how people are posting these stories themselves that bugs me.

I’m glad that people are reaching out to help others in a time of need.  (The first story about the Olive Garden is a case in point.)  But I’m very concerned about this trend of posting every single thing you see or hear or want to discuss online, because it’s a way of eroding your personal head space.

Or to put it more bluntly, people seem to be giving their privacy away much more easily than ever before.  And that is an extremely worrisome trend.

Second, there was a sad story today that I wish I didn’t have to write about.  A retired couple from Indiana had moved to Washington to be close to their son, his wife and their newborn grandson, and had spent the first ten days of the child’s life with him.  But today, a drunk driver who had already surrendered his driver’s license hit the couple as they were crossing a street with their grandson and daughter-in-law, killing the retired couple instantly.

The only good thing is that so far, the mother and child have survived.  But they are both in critical condition, and the outcome is far from certain.  I hope to post an update (with luck, a positive one) in a few days’ time.

This particular drunk driver had five previous DUIs, this according to the UK newspaper The Daily Mail.   Somehow, he managed to slam into not one person, but four — and his weak excuse amounted to, “The sun was in my eyes, and I didn’t see them,” according to newspaper reports (such as this one from the Washington Post).

Mind you, this is a paraphrase of what the various newspaper and TV reports I’ve read (and heard) have said.  But from all reports, after hitting four people including a newborn baby, this is all the drunk driver in question (I refuse to name him) had to say for himself.

He’s obviously learned nothing.

And last but not least, it is Easter Week.  I’ve written about Good Friday before (last year, in fact), and about Easter itself (two years ago) . . . basically, Easter Week is all about transfiguration, repentance and redemption.  And as such, it can be a very stressful time to deal with if you have any empathy at all, or any sense of what, historically, Christianity has meant to this world (for good and ill).

Religious historian Mircea Eliade wrote extensively on Christianity, and because I’ve read most of Eliade’s work, I realize that in many respects, Christianity was a major step forward.

Mind you, there were good Pagan cults that were suppressed, subsumed and/or stamped out.  That was not good by any stretch of the imagination.

But there also were bad Pagan cults and bad pre-Christian religions of all sorts that were also suppressed, subsumed and/or stamped out, too.

On balance, Christianity when it was adopted was a major step forward.  There were women who advocated for the church in early times — perhaps more of them than we’re currently aware of, because the chroniclers of that time were largely male.

It was only later, when the Church fathers (always fathers) got their hooks into Christianity that abuses were suffered.  And while there have always been good and kindly priests of all sorts in the Catholic Church and other Christian sects (as there have been in other churches worldwide throughout our history), the Christian faith as a faith must be vigilant against anyone or any thing that perverts its overall message.

Which, believe it or not, boils down to one and only one thing: love one another.  (Jesus said so, too.  It’s in the Bible.  Go look it up.)

Or, if you want two things, try the Golden Rule.  (Which Wiccans know as, “An ye harm none, do as thou wilt.”  Same thing.)

Everything else is window dressing.  And everything else, as such, should be viewed that way — with extreme caution.

Jesus is celebrated because he loved everyone.  The widows.  The orphans. The lepers.  Those who didn’t have enough to eat.  The homeless.  The scared.  The dying.  The condemned.

Jesus loved them all.

Yet the modern church, for the most part, has gone away from this.  (There are individual exceptions, such as Mother Teresa, Father Damien the Leper Priest, and so forth.)  They need to realize that any faith, if it’s any good at all, needs to care about everyone.

Not just those it understands.

Everyone.

Meaning the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.  Meaning women who want to be priests rather than nuns (great as nuns are, it’s not the same job, yet it’s the best any female can do in the Catholic Church).  Meaning kids who get so many piercings, you can barely see their skin.

Or convicts.  Prostitutes.  Villains of all sorts and descriptions . . . because redemption is possible even in the worst of all circumstances.

That’s what Jesus said, and that’s the life Jesus lived.  It was a heroic life in many respects, which is why Christianity is a very tough religion (I’m not the only one who’s said so, either; so did G.K. Chesterton).

We tend to view Jesus as an example rather than a man like any other man — or, perhaps better stated, a man with a spark of divinity in him that could not be denied even by his detractors.

Maybe we’d do a little better in this life if we viewed what he did as a man in comforting widows and orphans, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc., etc., and tried to do the same in whatever small ways we possibly can.

That way, we would show how much we truly care for others.  And we’d be following both the Golden Rule and Jesus’s “Eleventh Commandment” (that of loving one another as Jesus loved us) — which is something worthwhile to do whether you’re a Christian, a NeoPagan, a Muslim, an atheist, or a Martian.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm