Happy Easter and Passover! April is the month, this year that finds these two major religious festivals arriving on the same weekend. They are BOTH powerful holidays that speak to so many issues. For the caregiver in each of us, these festivals can be both bitter and sweet. We hopefully can be with friends and family. Yet, for many of us, we will sit down to a family Easter dinner or Passover seder very mindful that some people are not with us. Perhaps for the first time, we will struggle to find a sense of meaning beyond the pro-forma obligations of hosting or cooking or attending a service.
In that sense, I want to offer a small message that I hope you have a chance to think about. It is a message that comes, really, from the insights of both holidays. Both of these major events (so central to both Judaism and Christianity) speak to us in a profound way. The symbolism of the holidays carries with them a message of renewal and hope in the midst of great transition. The Easter story of Jesus and the Passover exodus from Egypt are powerful symbols of what is possible in our own life.
The stresses, burdens and joys of caregiving often provide us with opportunities to examine our own life. Both holidays propel us to consider that we need to not sacrifice our lives, dreams and hopes. They remind us that each of us can be renewed & in a sense, reborn, if we can shake the fear of change and growth and transition from our own souls. For so many who are feeling weighed down by the issue of caring for a loved one, these holidays can provide a sense of liberation and meaning. There is a higher purpose being served and this often lonely wandering, can provide a foundation for personal growth.
There is a tradition within the Jewish community as Passover nears, to clean out the non Passover acceptable foods (the leaven). There is a ritual that accompanies this cleansing. It is a metaphor for what these festivals can teach. Each of us, every year, is given the opportunity to clean out from our lives and souls, that which enslaves us. Easter and Passover, in their own ways, try and remind us that we are free to cross over our own personal sea and seek that which frees our souls. This transition does not come in a flash. It often is cumulative over time, until we arrive at a place in our life when we take all that has happened to us, embrace it and learn from it and move on into a future of our choosing.
May your holidays be sweet and joyous and healthy.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
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