Easter— a meditation on rebirth, renewal and change

I love Easter.   The associated religious themes of rebirth, resurrection and hope mingle with the more secular images associated with spring: flowers, eggs, chicks, and bunnies. The air is filled with hope of renewal, and the turning over of new leaves, bringing budding and blooming.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 11.16.24 PM

And the bunnies—bunnies are everywhere!  On foot:

bunnies-race

pace-bunny

On bikes:

familybunnies

bunny-bike

Even on kayaks:

kayak-bunny

It seems like everyone wants a piece of the Easter bunny action.  They’re even transforming their pets into bunnies– the dogs, of course:

dogs-bunny

Horses:

horse-bunny

Even this gerbil (or hamster– I’m not an expert…):

hamster-buny

Easter also evokes for me the tantalizing promise of the end of my semester and beginning of summer. Remember summer?

summer

Forget New Year’s—Easter is prime time for resolution making. This year, Easter is even more laden because my sabbatical starts in a month (29 days to be exact). One feature that people with tenured academic jobs enjoy (thanks, Nat, for reminding us of our positions of privilege) is the chance to take a semester or a year off from teaching duties to focus on other projects. I’m off to Australia in the fall to work with some researchers in Adelaide and Sydney.

With the prospect of endless vistas of unscheduled time come also endless to-do lists. My current potential health and wellness plans on the table for sabbatical include:

  • Getting back in shape for summer road biking with my (faster and younger) friends;
  • Returning to mountain biking;
  • Daily meditation;
  • Regular stretching and strength training;
  • Training to become a better hiker;
  • Canoeing and kayaking more;
  • Picking up tennis again after a 30-year hiatus;
  • Eating more veggies;
  • And yes, I admit it: losing weight so I’ll be faster on the bike, fit into my clothes, and feel better.

All this is on top of my full research/writing agenda, miscellaneous home projects (e.g. plant herb garden and refinish two chairs) and other social and travel plans.

Yeah, right. Am I nuts or what?

Here’s where Easter and I part company. Easter Sunday in the Christian tradition marks a miracle—Jesus being resurrected from the dead, in preparation to ascend to heaven. This is the story, and all religions have miraculous and transformative event myths that fix our attention and inspire us. But in our own down-to-earthly lives, transformation is not miraculous. It is slow, with setbacks and obstacles to overcome, and takes lots of twists and turns.

Transformation is also more cyclical than linear—we keep circling back to the same goals over and over again. Sometimes this happens in non-constructive ways (like in the case of yo-yo dieting), but other goals are process goals—like spending more time outside, or teaching yourself to care for plants, or taking up a new sport. We approach and fall back, approach and fall back, hoping to edge closer with each cycle, sometimes ending up in a different place altogether.

This Easter I’ll be enjoying the rush of hope, inspired by the annual rebirth of the natural world around me. I know any changes I want to make will happen gradually, and that list will get smaller as my priorities get clearer.  It’s okay to be where I am now, in the early spring of change, noticing and nurturing the tender new habits.  I’ll also try to breathe in, breathe out, and remember that change happens one breath at a time. Happy Easter!

namaste-bunny

About catherine w

I'm an analytic philosopher, retooled as a public health ethicist. I'm interested in heath behavior change, particularly around eating and activity, and how things other than knowledge affect our health decisions.I'm also a cyclist (road, off-road, commuter), squash player, x skier, occasional yoga-doer, hiker, swimmer and leisurely walker.

15 thoughts on “Easter— a meditation on rebirth, renewal and change

  1. Mary-Jo Lewis says:

    a wonderful post to ponder as i sit on Easter Sunday watching the approach of Spring! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula says:

    Thank you! Your description of transformation is just wonderful, and we share many of the same goals. Happy Easter, happy spring!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tracy I says:

    Ooooo, sabbatical! Thanks for the reminder of the secular associations with Easter. And how exciting that you’ve got a year of sabbatical! What I love most about it is it can change the pace of life (slower). And that feels pretty miraculous!

    Liked by 1 person

    • catherine womack says:

      You’re right that this can change the pace of life to make it slower; my challenge is not to sabotage that– I’m good at packing in as many things as I can handle, plus one or two. So it would be great to bring about the minor miracle of slower-paced life during sabbatical.

      Like

  4. Sam B says:

    Love your description of Easter and hope! I’m with you. Easter feels like rebirth, and a new beginning, in a way January 1st never does. Off to church this morning for beautiful music, and a joyful message.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sarahcox127 says:

    Rebirth, resurrection, starting over, a second chance. Easter is a great time to start a new health plan and the perfect time to turn over a new leaf and start advocating for your health. Thanks for a great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Issue.” This week she wrote on “Easter – a meditation on rebirth, renewal, and change.” (https://fitisafeministissue.com/2015/04/05/easter-a-meditation-on-rebirth-renewal-and-change/) Last night we were talking about the post and about how change happens in our lives. In her post […]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. roadbird says:

    Hey Catherine: Great post! I used it as a bouncing off point for my blog point today. Let me know what you think. https://thepolkadotjournal.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/glacial-transformation-and-miraculous-awareness/
    Happy Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] for those who participate in the modern version of a certain pre-Christian fertility ritual, click here or on the picture below to see a fun collection of fitness activities featuring people (and other […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. dorisrussell2001 says:

    I renewed myself by going to Church has and finding myself

    Like

  10. amazing,, it’s wonderfull.. really funny

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Milly says:

    This: “Transformation is also more cyclical than linear.” Nicely put.

    Like

  12. RunBikeThrow says:

    Just letting you know I posted the photo of the runners in bunny costume on my blog, with a link to this post. Great photos!
    Jeff

    Like

  13. imouti says:

    Please follow my blog. Imouti.wordpress.com

    Like

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