Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 6:41 PM on Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoughts about Easter, planet Earth, traditions

By Andrea Van Dinther

When I was a child, Easter meant chocolate bunnies (hopefully not hollow), searching for eggs hidden so well it could takes weeks to find the last one, a new dress that twirled, church and my mother's elaborately staged, awe-inspiring story of the helicopter that landed in the back yard out of which a gigantic bunny leapt and hid eggs everywhere. It took years before I wondered about the fact that my mom was the only one to ever see the helicopter and the bunny.

The first year we moved to Homer, we joined in on the Easter egg hunt at the Elks Lodge with our young son. As you can imagine, I could nary believe my eyes when the helicopter came so close that I could tell it really was going to land for us. For a brief moment, my childhood fantasy came true.

Now, as I contemplate Easter through grown-up eyes, I see a very different picture. I'm not interested in the candy — even for my children; they simply don't need a basket filled with high-fructose corn syrup. Like many of others in Homer, I will celebrate the holiday without my extended family. Without the generation before me, as well as their ideas about Easter, I am left to create my own traditions.

At first, when we moved to Homer, I tried to stick to what I knew. I went church shopping, hoping to find something similar to the tradition I was raised in.

After too many disheartening experiences I gave up shopping.

There was the preacher who started the sermon with a number. "Brother and sisters in Christ, since last week 355,678 souls have burned in hell." How he got that number I don't know, but apparently just that many poor unsuspecting, unbelieving sinners had died the previous week. Then, there was the one with the blessed overhead projector all cattywampus with rap music, accompanied by a slide show with words like salvation and perish in snazzy graffiti-esque font. Disconcerting, to say the least.

My church shopping has been so unsuccessful I have even considered joining the group that sits in silence (far better than spewing death tolls), but a little talking does seem nice.

Now, I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but I have to claim a few. Things have gone terribly wrong with Christianity, and I don't know what to do about it, and because of that I am left without a group to call my own.

For example, I found myself in the grocery store buying lettuce when suddenly a produce-aisle traffic jam ensued around me and I found myself in the middle of a conversation between people who had obviously just come from church. The chit-chat progressed from the sermon to a bit of how's so-and-so and then onto the produce. All three Christian shoppers chimed in on the silliness of buying organic and how one must have priorities, and after all, it doesn't really make a difference.

My heart broke a little with this reminder that so many Christians demand the creation story be taught, and yet seem to refuse to admit the impact humans have on God's creation. When God gave us dominion over this planet he gave us responsibility, not free reign to mess it up. When the produce conversation happened around me I said nothing, although I was thinking plenty.

I was thinking priorities. What could be a higher Christian priority than to care about the migrant worker who had to grow the non-organic food? What could be a higher priority than to care about the chemicals thrown about God's creation? If we, the Christians, can't care about the poor farmer who should be wearing a HASWAP suit to pick veggies or the damage done to God's green earth, then what can we care about?

Priorities, like Christ calling us in Corinthians, to treat our bodies like a temple because you, too, are God's house. It feels impossible to buy everything organic and to eat perfectly healthy all the time, yet we must strive toward a reasonable relationship with our bodies and our planet. Environmental stewardship is wise housekeeping and it is our call from God to care for this world so wonderfully made.

If I spent my Sabbath watching television and digesting fake processed food, I would have participated in activities that separate me from God, not draw me closer. For me, heading to church to sit with a bunch of lovely people who talk, walk and look like me, learning about how awful I am deep down in my dirty-minded soul, repenting and climbing back into my cozy unconscious life does not a Sabbath make.

So, for Easter I will celebrate Christ, the guy/God who hung out with the hookers and thieves without judgment. The prophet who shifted our connection with God, who said you don't need laws and rules to know God; Just know your own heart because that is where he lives.

My family will celebrate, my kids will search for some yummy healthy treats, and we will gather at Bishop's Beach for a bonfire, the place where last year my three children were baptized by my mom (an ordained elder from the church I was raised in).

This is the place where my friends who are pagans and atheists and healers gathered and celebrated my children's lives and our connection to God and to rebirth. This is where we'll meet again, to celebrate, to find our own tradition and to redefine our sacred place in the world.

Happy Easter. Andrea Van Dinther has lived in Homer for six years. She writes of herself: "She has three talented children and one handsome husband. She is a stay-at-home mom with three jobs on the side. And, she adores this little community on the beach."