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!

20 comments:

ellen abbott said...

Hmmm. I never really thought about the origin of blood sacrifice.Perhaps you're right. I think birth was the first and the greatest of the mysteries.

Tom said...

i like how you can throw everything in a pot and stir. your recipes are smashing!

Barry said...

Sometimes just the mystery is nice. Things might not be as interesting if had all the answers.

Doesn't mean it isn't a lot of fun to speculate though.

And you could well be right.

Linda Sue said...

WOW - Your Photos, Reya! So clear and fresh and amazing- what sort of camera do you use? You probably have been asked that a thou times before- I just haven't paid attention- probably because I am so wowed by your images.
Religious holidays never turned my crank much until i was in Italy for Easter one time- Great excuse to get fancy and happy- "zombie Jesus", woohoo!

ewix said...

Well it is all a bit exciting! I must say.......
Linda Sue, Reya has the same camera as me
so why are her pictures better??
hee hee
she sees differently.......

Nancy said...

Makes sense to me.

Kerry said...

I have wondered about these holidays too. They have a completely different feel from other celebrations, and I have very specific memories associated with them, such a combination of renewal and sacrifice.

Meri said...

It seems so odd to take life as an offering to show homage to the god who gave it.

Reya Mellicker said...

Well, Meri, we take life to survive. Everything we eat, animal or vegetable, was alive once upon a time. It makes sense to me that we would say, "Here God, you have the first serving, then we'll eat what's left."

Birthing is a huge sacrifice, and a great magnificent amazing gift. And it's bloody, oh yeah.

Linda Sue (and all) THANK YOU!! I use a Nikon Coolpix that has to be held together with a rubber band, otherwise the battery falls out. When I transfer pics to the computer I use Preview to correct color, amp up the contrast and increase sharpness. When I make the photo collages, I use photoshop, but so far I haven't found that photoshop works any better than Preview or iphoto for my pics.

Tom - thank you!!!

Ronda Laveen said...

Hmm...very interesting question to which I will give a lot of thought in the next few days as we move toward Easter.

Blood is such a powerful symbol of life as is water. Without it we can't exist. Love the photos!

lakeviewer said...

LIfe has been always hard. Holidays keep the memories alive.

Pauline said...

makes me wonder what those ancestral minds were really thinking, long before the days of recording. love the wonder, the mystery, and your fabulous photos

steven said...

reya - i use a nikon coolpix. it's very kind and very generous in seeing what i see. i walked into a room of bright people three days ago and a woman i greatly admire for her goodness and especially for being as real as real can be in this place said "it is what it is" about a matter of such great importance that suddenly - like birth - which i have witnessed personally three times - i was left in the hands of the one great moment. wondering. wondering. beautiful rich knowing post reya. i'm glad to be taught about what i really need to know but don't know how much i need to know it. steven

Rebecca Clayton said...

Wow! As soon as the first picture took shape on my screen, I smelled the blossoms. These are some powerful wild photos you're sharing.

Powerful ideas too. Lots to think about. And thanks for the whiff of DC spring.

Rinkly Rimes said...

The traffic lights and the statue all go to throw your joyous Spring photographs into brilliant relief.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Well, interesting thoughts as always. It is sad to think that in order for right or justice to prevail that we shed blood. It is ingrained in us from childhood when listening to stories from the bible. If we learned other stories would we be a less bloody people? How would that work? What stories would we be told?
Life is a mystery in all its aspects from birth to death. It is a mystery to be cherished.
I love reading your thoughts.

Reya Mellicker said...

Lizzy YES I believe we would be a more gentle people. When I went to watch the Tibetan Buddhist make his peace mandala last week, the teacher who had her class there said, "In Buddhism the most important thing is to be a good person." Wow. That's it. Be a good person. There really is nothing about bloodletting in Buddhism. You're just supposed to sit down and be calm. Those Buddhists have it coming and going!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks to all for your compliments about the pics. At this time of year in DC, it is not possible to take a bad pic. It's so incredibly beautiful!

Karen said...

Here's a new idea to add to the mix:

The Lakota people believe that when they do the Sun Dance--and, specifically, when they bleed during that ceremony--they give life back to creation. It's connected to their creation story of Inyan, who, each time something is needed, decides to drain itself of blood to create that something, so that the need can be met. And Inyan kept doing that until there was nothing left.

Definitely blood sacrifice, on both counts...

Barbara Martin said...

Blood sacrifice is a renewal of all life.