Apr. 24th, 2011

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Edit: This started out as a dull so-this-was-my-evening post, and rapidly turned into the central section of a Post About Religion that I've been wanting to make for a while. (At some other date I will get to the "No, really, we're not all horrible shouting bigoted Creationists" part of the speech.) Anyway, those f-listers who hold religion in contempt, scroll on by. And I am leaving the rest of it alone before I chicken out.

Man, I love the Easter Vigil. I've been sort of out of touch with my religion recently, and I'm not always sure how I fit into it, but this one ceremony out of the year is just - beautiful. Completely. It always starts out in the dark, with just the candles and maybe a couple of lights, and this year it was the fire leaping around in the baptismal fount in the back of the church, glowing on the priest's face, and then listening to all these ancient stories in the candlelight and the darkness - well. It's so very easy to forget that this religion is two thousand years old and that it is an offshoot of religions that are older yet, so easy for it all to feel like it only goes back a couple of centuries, maybe to the Victorian age. This is the ceremony where we all remember that this is far older than that, the night where holy really means something, means something great and ancient and mighty and wild. This is the night when we realize, when I realize, that this is about the belief that there is so much more than this, and twinned with that the belief that every little bit of this, the chalk drawing on the sidewalk and the light on the kid's hair and the prettiness of some stranger's little 100x100 pixel patch of screen, all those things are great and beautiful as themselves and as part of a larger whole. Listening to the stories, Noah and the Arc and the Red Sea and the Valley of Dry Bones, something slotted into place that had never entirely hit me before. In some way I'd already guessed that these aren't stories about bones and animals and oceans, but it was tonight that it hit me that these are stories about hope, about the triumph of the downtrodden, about life and the fact that it has a way of going on, and going on, and going on. And all of this, the whole ceremony and the whole night, it's really about the fact that redemption is always, always possible, that there is always another chance to start again, that we are never too broken or too damaged or carrying too many crimes on our backs. That we are always, always good enough to be loved. And right at the center of it is the idea that somebody died, someone honestly went through Hell, so that that would remain true, so that it would always be all right for us to mess up one more time as long as we realize that we did.

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