This isn’t intended as a criticism of anyone who may be. My faith in established institutions fractured early, and believing on my own has made putting Humpty Dumpty back together again a bit of a challenge.
There’s a commercial and social envelope around Christmas that masks the absence of an institutional allegiance. I don’t defend it; I observe and sometimes benefit from it. Easter, tied as it is to loss and redemption, is a different story.
Around the time I was starting college – my first time not taking a religion class every day – Patti Smith released her first album, Horses, who opening line (“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”) caused as much controversy as an American artist could hope for. But the lines that most resonated for me came a few moments later:
My sins my own/They belong to me … Me
Absent an institutional faith, I’ve probably overadjusted, substituting an Emersonian bias toward self-reliance. Take that too far, though, and you find yourself walking down the road with Ayn Rand, who might take exception to John Fletcher’s thought that “Our acts our angels are“.
So on Easter, my personal faith honors those taken too soon, friends like Shelley Riecke and Walter Lucas, for whom making and maintaining meaningful connections was their life’s work. It honors Pat McCarthy and Connie Connell, mothers whose work here is done, leaving us to pick up the mantle and make it our own.
And it honors Brother Jim Kelly, a member of the Xaverian order lost to cancer late last year, for whom “Yours in Christ” was more than a signature.
I don’t have an easy way to correspond across faith, acts and the institutions that house both. Today, I don’t need to. My colleagues, my friends, my family shared a dream of life. That’s still here to celebrate.
(With thanks to Laura Dawson, whose renewed blogging is an inspiration.)