Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Easter Story as a Guide to Personal Development

The Bible can be read in several ways: as divine revelation, historical document, and guide for spiritual growth. It is the latter that speaks to me this year as we approach that most glorious celebration of the Christian calendar. Specifically, I am drawn to the lessons embodied symbolically in the persons and events of the Easter story.

I think first of Judas Iscariot. In the traditional gospels, Judas is cast as the betrayer of Christ, the man who sold his teacher, and his own soul, for a few coins. Yet viewed symbolically, this character teaches about the saboteur in our own hearts.

We all have a Judas within, itching to pull us from our path. While not as dramatic as the Biblical Judas, this inner voice encourages us toward ethical lapses in many ways. Perhaps our Judas justifies overtly explosive or self~destructive behavior. Often, however, his influence is deceptively subtle, urging us to forgo the endeavors that nurture our soul and create love in our lives.

Whatever these challenges, there's no need to deny this dynamic or be surprised by the setbacks it causes. Selling our deeper interest for short~term gain is just the way of the saboteur.

Enter Pontius Pilate and the angry crowd. They, too, live within us. Pontius is the part of us that knows full well what needs to be done. A weak Pontius, however, allows us to abdicate our duty to stand firm, and instead hands our higher good over to that raucous mob. Surrounded then by our own negativity, energy drains from us. We are led away.

So, our Judas sells us, our Pontius abandons us, our ugly crowd assails us. And we hang. And we wait. 

Fortunately, just as in the Easter story, we also have a chorus of wise women inside as well, offering moral support throughout our travails, standing witness as we move toward the inevitable conclusion. For Grace finally arrives, releasing us from our pain and bringing us new life. Somehow we wake up and get back on the path, with our earthbound selves expanded and connected once more to Spirit.

So there you have it, the cacophony of voices existing within the average human psyche, moving us again and again toward our suffering~~and redemption. For after participating in our own demise repeatedly, we begin to recognize the price of moving unconsciously through life. We gain wisdom.

Remember those inner wisefolk? As the process of spiritual maturation continues, we begin to lend our precious energy to their empowerment. Our wise ones gradually grow strong enough to support Pontius in doing as he knows he should. The power begins to shift away from Judas and the harsh crowd.

But this doesn’t happen quickly or easily. In fact, it seems that our challenges merely become more subtle, though so do our powers of discernment. Such is the journey of evolving consciousness.

So as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the coming week, let us also celebrate the many times we, too, have risen through suffering. And let us continue to fortify our inner resources and listen, willingly and gratefully, to the wise voices within as they grow stronger, bit by bit.

As this process unfolds, Christ has provided a model to guide us~~the path of surrender and faith in a redemption that will surely come. As we die again and again to our limited, earth-bound selves, we can open~~
consciously and willing, as did He~~to a resurrection in Spirit. 

Thus the beauty of the entire cycle shines forth, as it moves us inexorably toward unity with the Divine.

Happy Easter! And I send good wishes for your personal sufferings~~and for the resurrections they offer. 

Loanne Marie


5 comments:

Jay said...

Loanne, I am just reading this one now, after my Easter has passed. What a great take on the Easter story. I found my self feeling so sorry for Judas in church this week, and this tells me why... I can recognize myself in his weakness, as well as that of Pilate and the mob.

Loanne Marie said...

Thanks again for your comment, Jay. I think easy categorizations simply don't work for most of us after a certain point. When we begin to grapple with our own shadow, we become a bit softer with the weaknesses of others.

But I also think you might be interested in the Gospel of Judas, which presents Judas in a MUCH more sympathetic light. Are you familiar with it? In this version of the story, Judas is the disciple who sacrificed himself willingly, at Christ's request, to do what was required for the scriptures to be realized. I understand why some folks would have a problem with this idea, but I find it interesting.

Thanks again for reading and writing!

Jay said...

Oooh I should read it. I found myself thinking along those lines too during last week, and even commented to a Jewish friend that without this "betrayal" (sort of refering to the anti-Semitism *some* "Christians" take away from the story of Judas and the mob) there would not be much of a religion, or a story!

Loanne Marie said...

Good! Let me know what you think. Lo

Loanne Marie said...

Good! Let me know what you think.

Loanne

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