After I bought a cup of coffee and some muffins this afternoon, the clerk said "Have a nice Easter." I thought, What, it's Easter?
I'd completely lost track of what tomorrow was. I started to say, "I'd forgotten about it. Guess that shows how religious I am."
But I decided to bite my tongue and simply say, "Thanks."
Easter means absolutely nothing to me. Probably somebody in the world celebrates a memorable day in Zeus' existence. The two celebrations are equally senseless to my churchless self.
Yet I realize that other people find religious rituals and holidays deeply meaningful. They're welcome to their beliefs, as unfounded as they are to me.
We all need something to help us cope with life – which is full of uncertainty, pain, suffering, distress, unhappiness.
Coffee picks me up when I feel down. Others go to church, read the Bible, pray, or visualize Jesus' love for them. Personally, I think a latte is a better choice.
The Jehovah's Witnesses who knocked on our door this morning don't agree, though. I was in the midst of doing something important: eating a pancake and surfing the Internet. When I saw who was standing on our front porch, I felt a quiver of faithless indignation.
A woman handed me a leaflet, while a much older man in a suit stood to one side. "Hello, we'd like to invite you to a celebration of Jesus tomorrow."
I began rehearsing putdowns in my mind.
If she says one thing more…If she asks me if I've found Jesus…I'll tell her what she can do with her brochure…Yeah, bring it on sister…Just one more word…You knocked on the wrong door this Easter eve.
But she just smiled. Said, "thank you." And walked away.
Good move. The Jehovah's Witnesses have learned something. Or maybe they have a notation next to our address: "Tread lightly with these pagans."
Whatever, I went back to my pancake and laptop wishing them well. They were spending the day acting on their beliefs. Not in a pushy fashion, at least not with me. They simply wanted to spread the Good Word.
Which isn't so different from what I do on this blog, except I don't search people out.
Fresh from seeing Barack Obama yesterday, I'm in a pretty mellow mood. I agree with him that we need to do a much better job of breaking down the distinctions that plague this country.
Red states, blue states. Conservative, progressive. Faithful, faithless. Moral, immoral. Right, wrong. Patriotic, unpatriotic.
It isn't that we have to blend into some sort of featureless amorphous mass of oneness, losing our individuality.
It's more that believers need to do their best to look through the eyes of unbelievers, and vice versa. Ditto for blacks and whites, rich and poor, Republicans and Democrats, young and old, men and woman, etc. etc. etc.
In the bread store I paused before I blurted out what was going to be an impulsive rejoinder from my perspective. I realized that I had no idea how the clerk viewed Easter.
Maybe it meant a lot to her. Or maybe nothing, like me. Regardless, there was no need to say anything but "thank you." That's what I told the Jehovah's Witnesses also.
Have a nice Easter. Whatever it means to you.