Sunday, March 28, 2010
The lengths we go to say thanks
Tomorrow night is the beginning of Passover, a week from today is Easter. I love both holidays so much. The drama, oh my God, the drama of those stories! Blood will be shed, by the firstborn of the Egyptians, by all those poor lambs who gave their lives so the Jews could mark their doors against the Angel of Death, by Jesus dying on the cross. But what follows the bloodshed is redemption, the rising of Jesus from his grave, the arrival - at long last - of the Jews to the promised land. In these stories we tell every year, the blood sacrifice serves a greater good.
Christians give up something for Lent, Jews give up all food that rises for Passover. I'm guessing this is our modern-day version of blood sacrifice. Is that right?
Every year I wonder about the source of these incredible holidays. One of my theories is that springtime blood sacrifice originated as a ritual way of celebrating the bloodshed that accompanies birth. Anyone who has ever attended or given birth will tell you that the epic of childbirth is extremely dramatic, and very bloody, but in the end well worth it. Birth is a miracle, an every day miracle, but a miracle just the same. Blood sacrifice must have originated because of the experience of childbirth, don't you think? No one knows for certain, of course, since this ancient form of devotion began long before written history caught up with it, many many thousands of years before we began telling the stories of Passover and Easter. I'll never solve the mystery, but I love thinking about it anyway.
Life is precious, as the Buddhists say. It's so precious, in fact, that we're willing to spill blood just to let God know how much it means to us. L'chaim, y'all, L'chaim!