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This Easter season is probably the first in a while that I’ve taken the time to truly think about and ponder the meaning behind the holiday.

This Easter season is probably the first in a while that I’ve taken the time to truly think about and ponder the meaning behind the holiday.

Last week a friend of my mother passed away after battling breast cancer for a few years. She and my mom had been close friends for almost 40 years, and had a relationship that lasted over multiple countries, continents and life events. Although she was not a close friend of mine, she was a character in my life that I had many fond memories of. Her endless smile, infectious laugh and relentless positivity in the face of adversity always inspired me.

That’s who she still was the last time I saw her, a few years ago when I was back in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was shown a photo of her just before she passed, and it looked like a different person. Anyone who has lost someone from cancer knows how much the person, toward the end, becomes just a shell of who they once were.

These recent events have got me reflecting on the beauty of Easter. It made me reflect on the other people I’ve lost in my life, the ones I will and how I, too, will someday leave this earth. It wasn’t so much a depressing or dark thought, but one that made me grateful for my faith and life.

For many, Easter is a sacred time. Its central themes of resurrection and rebirth are both uplifting and humbling. It is uplifting to know that the pains and sufferings of my loved ones will not last forever, and that their bodies will be restored to a perfect condition. It is humbling to know that it is only because of someone paying the ultimate sacrifice that this can be so. Perhaps it is this juxtaposition of life and death so close to one another that makes it particularly special.

Easter is a time of renewal and rebirth, regardless of religion or beliefs. The blossoming trees, colorful tulips, green grass and sounds of birds early in the morning are all reminders that the darkness isn’t forever. It’s a reminder to appreciate life a little bit more.

The world isn’t perfect. There are heartbreaking and upsetting things we hear about or witness every day. Despite this, humanity continues to create, to push forward and search for solutions. Even in the darkest times, the beautiful thing about humanity is that we continue on. The Easter story personifies that with its beautiful miracle and life emerging after death and darkness. The Easter holiday comes after a dark winter, where it seems that nothing can grow — but then it miraculously does. Beauty lies in understanding that the grass turns green and the flowers bloom because of nourishment from the storms, not despite them.

"  Even in the darkest times, the beautiful thing about humanity is that we continue on. "

I’ve taken time over the last few days to ponder life and my faith. I find comfort in my belief of life after death and that we can all be perfected. My mom’s friend suffered many trials, the last of which was cancer. Even though her body grew weak, her spirit grew stronger and she continued to live with hope and joy. There is comfort in believing that now that spirit is free and will one day be reunited with a body just as strong.

While walking to work on Thursday, I took greater notice of the sun and blue skies — something that had been absent after days of rain — and the sounds of birds returning after months away. I walked a little slower so that I could enjoy the smell of the blossoms. If there were roses, I may have literally stopped to smell them. They are such small, simple things that I could have easily passed by, but they felt special because it had been so long since I’d felt the sun or heard the birds.

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This Easter, I find myself grateful for more than the impending good weather, time with family and assortment of decorated eggs. I am grateful for a life that is full of ups and downs, for the sweetness of friendship and the power of love, particularly of a love so powerful that it can transcend death. I am grateful for belonging to a faith with a story as powerful and beautiful as the one this holiday celebrates.

No matter what you may be going through or what you believe, there is hope found in the message of Easter.