Easter Wanderings

The time is just shy of 6:00 a.m. I’ve been up since just after 4:00 a.m. During that almost two-hour stretch, I’ve had half a cup of coffee—reheated twice in the microwave—and read an enormous amount of unrelated stuff online. And I listened to a remarkable rendition of Dust in the Wind (originally recorded by progressive rock group Kansas), played on a harp guitar by a guy named Jamie Dupuis. I was unfamiliar with the harp guitar until this morning. See, you can learn something new every day if you start early enough.

Though I tried to avoid it, I couldn’t remain entirely free of the intrusion of world news during the two hours I’ve been awake. So, I know about the six explosions—three in churches and three in luxury hotels—in Sri Lanka.  At last count, 138 people are dead and hundreds more have been injured. I’ve been fed a diet of details about the blasts, including some speculations that the bombings might be related to the ethnic violence that led to the country’s civil war. But even if that’s true, I don’t know “why?” And I can’t understand “why?” And I don’t think I will ever understand how anyone can reach the point of deciding it’s all right to kill hundreds of people with whom the bombers probably do not know.

Fortunately, I’ve not permitted myself access to any other news. It’s not that I think Easter Sunday is somehow too “holy” to suffer the insanity of violence. It’s that I don’t need or want any more news about the insanity for the moment.

Despite the fact that Easter Sunday doesn’t have any special meaning for me, the day draws out memories (both individual and collective, as in societal) of tradition. And, so, we will celebrate those memories and that tradition with a special meal. My wife bought a ham last week and she plans to prepare a fancy dinner. Her sister will join us for the meal late in the day. We plan to go to church today, where I expect there might be reference made to the fact that it’s Easter Sunday, but the day doesn’t mean the same thing in our church that it means in traditional Christian churches. I’ll offer a quote, attributed to a Unitarian Universalist, from a story I read online this morning:

I believe the real meaning of Easter is the appreciation of life’s renewing cycles and, that for all things there is a season. I believe the real meaning of Easter is the acknowledgment, with its accompanying sadness, of a very human Jesus who was forced to die on the Cross because of his liberal religious views and beliefs. But most important of all, I believe the real meaning of Easter is the Celebration of Thanksgiving for the presence of the sacred in each and every living person and thing; for the presence of the sacred in the birds that sing; for the presence of the sacred in the flowers which sway and the grasses which rustle in the gentle breezes of spring.

In my view, nothing is innately sacred. Humans ascribe to certain things or ideas the concept that those things or ideas should be revered for one reason or another. So, in that sense, reverence is artificial; it is simply “made up.” But that doesn’t quite explain why I view a magnificently beautiful sunrise with inexplicable awe, does it? I wonder whether dogs or cattle or elephants experience that same sense of astonished reverence at that sunrise? I think not, though I have no evidence to support my presumption that other animals aren’t as stupefied as I when they see just another day in the universe. All right, enough about Easter and awe and the tension between being a non believer and being unable to explain the awe I sometimes feel about the world around me.

After church this morning, my primary task for the day is to move all the furniture, plants, grills, etc. from the deck so work can begin tomorrow on cleaning it, patching and/or replacing decking, and painting it. I began the work several months ago but finally admitted I couldn’t do it all, especially after my toils were interrupted by my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments. The search for someone to do the work was an undertaking in itself; I hope the guy I picked is as good as he and his references claim. Initially, I had planned to have the railing painted, as well, but I’ve decided to explore replacing the vertical wood balusters with horizontal wire. I have to check into the local requirements/restrictions as well as building codes before moving ahead with that. My plan is to do that checking immediately so the entire deck, including the railing, will be finished with  a matter of days or weeks, not months.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon at Lowes, where I met with my contractor to buy paint, sandpaper, a special router bit, decking lumber, and assorted other stuff. I had no idea that a 5-gallon bucket of paint could weigh so damn much! I bought two such buckets; I may have to buy more, depending on how well it covers. According to the information on the cans, one gallon is sufficient to do two coats of paint for 75 square feet (the paint is heavy-duty stuff, meant to cover defects in old, beat-up decks). I’m not sure of the precise square footage of our deck, but I believe it’s between 800 and 1000 square feet (it’s a big deck). Maybe the guy can stretch the paint a bit. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is good for outdoor work; no rain. Tomorrow, the deck is to be power-washed, cleaned with a special wood cleaner meant for old decks, and badly cracked boards replaced.  But the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, the days initially planned for painting, calls for rain. But the forecast for next Friday through the following Tuesday looks promising. With luck, we’ll have the deck painted with a week or so, then.

Again, I’ve drifted in and out of focus here. My fingers haven’t been awfully active for much of the last hour. It’s now a quarter to seven and I just noticed through the blinds that it’s light outside! Time to go put the hummingbird feeders out. And more coffee.

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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