Somebody put a leaflet through my door about Easter last week. It was an invitation to a seminar (if that is what you'd call it) at one of the local churches about why Jesus died for my sins. Had a pretty accomplished picture of the Man Himself on the back of the leaflet wearing His crown of thorns, blood oozing from the wounds it made in His forehead.
I get lots of leaflets through the door in Semilong. It was one of the differences I noticed when I moved to Northampton after years of living in the country. Out there you get the free papers and not much else. But in the town you are bombarded daily by pizza houses, Chinese restaurants, charities wanting your old clothes (okay, it would take a mean cur to argue with that one), even -- perhaps this is peculiar to Semilong -- the Police boasting that they've driven the hookers away with this or that new programme.
Which is fine, although somebody ought to be considering the number of trees that have to die for this wastefulness. I just throw away everything except the charity bags, and those I tend (not deliberately I hasten to add) to leave around until the day after the collection date, when they are no longer useful to man or beast -- at which point they find their way into the bin also. But I can't throw away the leaflet about Easter.
It's because of the picture of Jesus. I'm not a Christian; I'm a Buddhist -- and half the time I'm not even sure of that, given the degree of anger and hopelessness that I harbour deep in my heart like a family secret. But somehow I can't bring myself to consign to the rubbish such a beautiful image of love and sacrifice. To drop it in with the egg shells and the empty bean tins and the porridge scrapings would be to tell myself, somehow, that the values He's supposed to have died for (however temporarily) don't have to be respected; and that would be a bad sign indeed for a society that seems to respect nothing at all, except money.
* * * * * * * * *
Easter is with us now; 2010 years ago today, if I have my chronology correct (which I doubt), didn't the crucified prophet rise from His tomb to prove to all who witnessed the event -- and all who heard about it, which is a fair few indeed -- that they would have eternal life in the Lord?
I understand that. I was taught well enough many years ago at Sunday School in the village where I grew up, before Christians had begun hating homosexuals and accusing epileptics of being the Devil's battleground.
And that message must have left a deeper mark on me than I'd thought, through all my years of atheism and the hours on the meditation cushion, if I can't even throw away a leaflet with Jesus' picture on it. Maybe I will wind up "kissing the cross on my deathbed", as somebody, I think it was Jack Kerouac, said.
I doubt it. But if I do, I hope it's in the name of a friendlier Church than the one we are seeing today.