I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday 2017

Easter Sunday 2009
Eight years ago, I was in Skopje, Macedonia on Easter Sunday. Although I had retired by then, my old boss Mickey talked me into working for him one more time, for a conference he wanted to have in Macedonia, and I reluctantly agreed. It was pretty wonderful to be able to travel to such a distant country and have it all paid for, and the work I was doing was something I had done for so many years for him that I wasn't worried about whether I could do it.

We organized it for the week after Easter, but we had neglected to realize that in this part of the world, the Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter at a different time, since they figure the date using a different method. However, by some fluke, this year, 2017, Easter is celebrated on the same day by both Orthodox Christians and the Catholic and Protestant churches.That means that at this moment, everywhere in the world the commemoration and celebration of Easter is in full swing.

In preparation for the trip, I had to figure out just where in the world Macedonia is, since I knew it was in Europe somewhere, but where exactly I didn't know. It is just north of Greece, surrounded by Albania, Kosovo, and Bulgaria. Arriving in the airport in the capital, Skopje, it was a bit of a culture shock to see how dilapidated the airport was. But once we traveled into the town, it was quite an adventure to be exposed to a new culture. The one thing I really enjoyed about my job was that I traveled to many exotic places in the world. Perhaps that's one reason why I no longer have any wanderlust left at all. I'm happy to stay right here in the Pacific Northwest.

Looking back over the past few decades, I am struck by how much my life has changed and settled down into a comfortable routine. I was thrilled to be able to travel to many parts of Southeast Asia numerous times, as well as Europe and even Russia once. I think my favorite place of all was Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) many years ago. I have fond recollections of a trip we took to the countryside, and I was simply amazed at the sight of oxen-led carts sharing the street with cars, and the sense of happiness I felt from the people themselves. Everyone treated me with respect and curiosity, even though my country had waged a terrible war against them. I visited the Củ Chi tunnels during a tour, which should not be missed if you get a chance to get there. From that link:
The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped to counter the growing American military effort.
It was simply amazing to see whole hospitals and living quarters underground like that, which I saw after crawling through several tunnels (widened for tourists) and going down to other deep levels. I have never forgotten that unique experience. It's easy to see why it was so difficult to conquer the Vietnamese people. And in my short visit there, they captured my admiration through their gentle spirit and willingness to forgive. I think that spirit of forgiveness is in short supply these days.

On this particular Easter Sunday, I am filled with foreboding when I read the news from around the world. We are apparently going on a path toward war, once again, this time with North Korea. It's difficult to fathom how this will be avoided, but on this day I want to concentrate on the resurrection of the light, of hope, and of joy, not on fear and dismay. Therefore, I am turning my eyes away from all the rumblings of conflict and instead concentrating on the positive side of life. The sun is shining today, the trees are in bloom (making me grateful for allergy medication), and at this moment my life is good, very good.

One thing about getting older is that it becomes easier to take a long view of history. When I was born in 1942, the world was so incredibly different than it is today, in so many ways, that I would never have believed it could change so much in a single lifetime. So when I take the long view, whatever happens in the world today will not be insurmountable. The world turns, the seasons change, and nature reasserts itself and heals the scars of humanity's folly. Eventually. Although I won't be around to see it, just knowing that helps me to find serenity in today's chaotic world.

Although I won't be attending church as I don't actually follow any particular denomination these days, I am very aware that Easter is a time for new beginnings, for me to find love and joy in my surroundings, my loved ones, and my daily life. I'll be heading off to the coffee shop and will truly enjoy my interaction with the people there. My friend John and I will share a bagel, and I'll laugh and carry on with him and Gene until it's time to go, and I'll step out into the magnificent sunshine and feel it on my face before deciding what comes next. One thing about living in a place where it rains much of the time, when the rain stops and the sun comes out, it's fun to see the faces around me break into smiles. You don't get that when you live in Florida or the desert.

My patent-leather Mary Jane shoes and Easter dress belong to another Easter, long ago, another time that only lives in my memory. I've got several months of Easters to look back on and as well celebrate the moment of today, Easter Sunday around the entire world. Hallelujah! Or, in today's vernacular, Woo-Hoo!

I just took the last swig of tea, my partner is still fast asleep next to me, and the sun, which is coming up earlier every day, is lightening the skies outside. I hope however you celebrate this day, whether Easter, or Passover, or Wicca, or nothing at all, it will be a good one, and one that you share with your friends and family in marking the coming of another season of love and joy. Be well until we meet again next week.


Linda Reeder said...

I refuse to believe in the imminent threat of war that the media is focused on. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Fear can corrupt.
Tom and I will set out on our morning walk soon. Then I will take some time to enjoy the beauty of spring in my garden before getting ready to go to Jill's house for a small family gathering to celebrate Easter and Irene's 12th birthday, which is actually tomorrow.
I celebrate Easter as the pagans did, as a time for new life and new beginnings, a time for renewal of growth. Most of my family and friends celebrate the Resurrection. Either way, Hallelujah!

Gigi said...

Happy Easter!

Linda Myers said...

Fireworks today on Easter in Greece!

Marie Smith said...

Have a wonderful day, Jan. It is off to a great start by the sound of it.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter! Aloha from Hawaii.

Elephant's Child said...

Easter has been and gone here.
I hope yours is lovely.

Arkansas Patti said...

All this saber rattling is very disconcerting but like you, I have seen us survive worse. Let the sun shine in and chase all bad thoughts away. New growth brings new hope.

Red said...

You connected a wide variety of topics in this post: travel, personal history, history, politics, friends, weather. You tied all these together in one post. I hope you had a great day.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Easter! I hope you had a nice day:)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Happy Easter. Here we added a wedding into the weekend making for a very busy time. Fun for sure.
You sure have seen a fair bit of our globe.

C-ingspots said...

We gather as a family, but don't formally celebrate anything. We're truly an odd bunch, but family is family and I'm thankful for them. And, oh my goodness yes, to see the sun shining is a gift beyond measure!! Hope you enjoyed your Easter Day.

As far as world events, what will happen is beyond my control. I just try to do good when and where I can, and be thankful for all the little blessings. :) Love you DJan!

Sally Wessely said...

It's good to have a long view of history that comes from being our age. I try to keep it all in perspective. On Easter Sunday, it is a good time to reflect on what life is all about. My faith sustains me. It is good to shout Hallelujah.

Stella Jones said...

I share all your feelings too DJan. We watch the news over here with much fear these days and wonder what is around the corner. It's easy to imagine what a huge mess of the world those two idiots could so easily make of it, each one keen to press a button and 'prove' that he is the top dog! But we have to keep a perspective of light otherwise all the good is wasted. Hope never dies in the hearts of the faithful.
I don't have any wanderlust left either. One country I still would like to visit is Italy. I love the sound of that language and the beautiful scenery in the towns and countryside of that lovely place. Maybe one day I will go there. Larry is very happy here in England and apart from seeing his children and grandchildren again, he is quite content to leave America to sort itself out. He certainly doesn't miss the politics there. He has observed that here in England, things get done much quicker (presumably because it is a smaller country with fewer people and he is happy for that.
By the way, I did see a programme on television a few weeks ago, coming from the establishment in Boulder where you used to work. I found it fascinating, not least to know that you had been there.

likeschocolate said...

I been there, but a very long time ago when my wee one was just a baby. He is now 18! Have a great week!