Ed and I have a lot in common.
We’re about the same age. Growing up, we both leaned more toward the Beach Boys than the Beatles, and we both refused to give ourselves fully over to disco (although we did kind of like the stacked heels — being two inches taller was definitely cool).
We work in the same general field. We’ve both been married for 30-plus years, and we both have children and grandchildren whom we adore. We each lost a parent to Alzheimer’s, and we both are seeing signs to indicate that the disease is hereditary — although he claims you get it from your kids.
Truth be told, the biggest difference between us is Easter. Well, OK — not Easter, exactly. It’s really the whole Easter/Christmas/religious meaning thing. My family and I follow one religious tradition, and he and his follow well nothing.
And rarely the twain shall meet.
Take Easter, for example. For my family, Easter is probably the holiest of holidays. It represents the fulfillment of prophecy, and the literal culmination of divine promises in this life and forever. It celebrates love, compassion, redemption and grace, and it imbues our lives — individually and collectively — with meaning, fulfillment and joy.
Ed says his family also enjoys Easter — but for different reasons. For them, Easter is a time of rebirth. They celebrate the coming of spring and its blessed recovery from winter. For them the season abounds with family traditions: preparing and planting the garden, bringing the lawn lovingly back to life, patching and repairing winter’s impacts on their home and yard. While there is no religious significance to their Easter-time observances, it is meaningful to Ed and his family nonetheless.
Ed and I have talked a little about this difference in perspectives, and while it isn’t exactly a problem between us, it’s clear that we both wonder a little about where the other is coming from. I can’t help but wonder how someone can live and raise a family without the comfort and peace of religious belief, and I’m sure he wonders — probably a lot — about how reasonable, rational people can invest so much time and energy into something so seemingly intangible as faith.
I’ve tried to explain to him that my faith isn't intangible — that it is more solid and real to me than most of what passes for “solid” and “real” in contemporary society. Similarly, he has made it clear to me that he considers his life to be full and vibrant and completely satisfying without much input from organized religion.
And so here we are — at an Easter impasse. We work together well, we enjoy one another’s friendship but there’s this difference. He thinks Easter is a celebration of spring and pink bunnies that lay multi-colored eggs in plastic grass. I see it through spiritual eyes.
So what does that mean?
If past Easters are any indication, it means that we’ll both go home on Friday and enjoy a pleasant Easter with our families. Easter morning will find him in his garden puttering and planting, and it will find me at church pondering and praying. And then next Monday we’ll greet each other in the lunchroom and we’ll talk about our respective weekends while we munch on egg salad sandwiches. Sure, I’ll worry about his immortal soul, just as I’m sure he’ll worry about my sanity. But in a world where people fight and bleed and die over such differences, it’s good to occasionally set them aside.
And to celebrate what we have in common.