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.

And the bunnies—bunnies are everywhere!  On foot:

On bikes:

Even on kayaks:

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


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

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

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!

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