The half chilly, half sunny feeling in the air this morning reminded me of an Easter years ago, when life was bursting with pent up potential, chock full of almosts. I was almost 16, almost legally driving, almost over the crest of the hill I was scrambling up; desperate to know what was on the other side.
That was the Easter I dyed my hair red with an over the counter kit. And then later in the morning, a boy I kinda liked stopped by in his dad’s car. There were no texts or emails back then. No predetermined plans. Just paths crossing or missing each other in accordance with destiny and other fickle, impossibly uncontrollable factors.
We drove with the windows down even though it wasn’t really warm enough to. Jane’s Addiction played on the radio and clove cigarettes burned ceremoniously as we navigated the bright yellows of daffodils in front yards and blinking lights at the intersections.
My teenage years unfolded inside the endless maze of suburban streets that never led, somehow, to the highway; never led to that bigger, bolder world beyond the one we knew by heart. We would drive those streets over and over, in a way that felt random and methodical, at the very same time. Like people retracing their steps. People who had lost something and would be out looking for it forever.
I didn’t grow up with religion. We went to church as a gesture and only on the big holidays, if at all. I’ve had nothing to unravel or unlearn or reckon with in this category, as an adult. The big challenge for me has been making peace with the deficit of what I never got. And confronting the enormity of how much I profoundly do not know in the face of what a seeker I naturally am.
Easter for me has always been about beginnings.
First beginnings - when everything that was happening had never happened before. The tender awkwardness of being liked and liking back. Of mixed tapes exchanging. Clumsy first kisses. Skipping school. Riding on trains at dusk. Discovering the city. Getting lost on purpose. Vintage blue jeans and combat boots. Writing Morrissey lyrics on the back of my hand like temporary tattoos. The simplicity of knowing that everything I needed in this world fit inside the bag that was hanging from my shoulder.
And then, over time, my understanding of beginnings shifted from the idea of what was novel to the idea of what was being offered, with grace, once more.
To "begin again" sounds oxymoronic. And yet it’s where the power of our redemption and our transformation lies. If we can begin again after everything we began the first time falls apart, then there are no final endings. Just choices to make, as we navigate; one road leading to another road leading to another. Like the old maze of my childhood streets.
I learned this when I learned to meditate. My teacher taught us that the most important moment in a sitting is the moment when you realize your mind has wandered and you call it, lovingly, back to your present experience.
This is the art of return. The art of beginning again.
This is how I think of Easter and of Spring. It’s a time for kicking off the heavy blankets where we’ve been hunkered down and can now take stock of what is asking to die and fall away... and what is asking to begin, anew, again.