Never mind the bunny with a candy basket. Easter is a celebration of the passage from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light, from crucifixion to resurrection. What a potent wake up call for every day of our lives.
Around this time, a long long time ago and every year, Ishtar, the ancient Sumerian goddess descends into the underworld to reclaim a forgotten treasure: the part of our existence here that has to do with body, darkness, depth, and wholeness. She chooses to sacrifice all her upper-worldly points of reference: dependence on linear logic and rational thinking, predictability, power and control.
Down under, Ishtar is hanged on a hook for five days and suffers great pain and death. When she is resurrected, she returns from the dark humbled, with great capacity for holding the suffering, complexity, and unpredictability of human existence in the vast embrace of her luminescent heart. She brings back wholeness and depth.
You may recognize the dilemma: life in the upper world of everyday consciousness (and busyness) can get a little soulless, flat. The soul loves the dark and loves the depths. The soul loves slow time, fresh perceiving, feeling, and touching what’s real.
We repeat Ishtar’s journey every time we choose to descend to our inner world and meet ourselves where we are hurting, disappointed, scared, or numb. It requires a sacrifice, or many – of belief, control, the ‘safety’ promised by the rational mind. Ishtar’s quest is for inclusion of all our humanity; her promise a life of true wholeness and depth.
As ancient Sufis teach, when I am truly willing to surrender my resistance to life, and turn wholeheartedly toward all of my experience, however painful, all suffering melts into the radiant space in which everything dances (even if the pain continues). The moment of crucifixion and the moment of resurrection become one luminescent moment.