Around this time a few years ago (like 8?!) I went to a sleepover with a bunch of young women around my age. We had a blast watching movies and staying up late, some boys even snuck over and left roses on the porch. I don't think at the time I even realized that Easter was coming up soon, but when we were roused early the next morning by our adult leaders I knew something was up. What I didn't know was that I would be taught a lesson that would enlighten my understanding of Christ's gospel and , as cheesy as it sounds, change my life.
Whether words on a page or cultural tradition, I have always been drawn to the depth I feel when I steep myself in symbolism. I LOVED reading and analyzing The Scarlet Letter in the 11th grade. I even got an 8+ from Mrs. DeGroff when it came time to write the paper and I totally geek out over Midsummer and the Lucia Festival every year despite being only a little tiny bit Swedish. Holiday traditions are totally my bread and butter, although I am picky about them...they have to have deep meaning for me.
As a Christian and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, symbols have a spiritual importance to me as well. Christ taught using parables and symbols, and symbolism plays a huge role in my religion and personal testimony of Jesus Christ.
It was dark as we crammed into a few cars and were chauffeured up a winding hill, arriving sleepily at the home of another one of our adult leaders. She greeted us quietly, her lowered voice indicating that reverence was required. We filed into her backyard and sat on hammocks and patio furniture, looking around tiredly.
Next she talked about symbols.
She talked about the cross and Christ's empty tomb, a crown of thorns and easter baskets. But she also explained the symbolism of our weekly Sacrament. She explained that each week first the trays of bread and next of water were covered in a white sheet to symbolize Christ's body,
As the sun rose behind our teacher, I was caught up in a feeling that I have felt rarely in my life. It's the feeling you get when you hear an eternal truth. But our teacher had finished speaking.It was the sunrise which spoke to me then.
For though it had been dark when we'd arrived, it rose.
It lit up the darkness, bringing with it the dazzling color and warmth of day.
We use symbols to teach--assigning objects meaning so as to heighten understanding. What I learned that day was that this was an eternal practice.
This Easter I will take my little baby outside and show him the sun as it rises. I won't say a word.
I won't have to.
* images obtained from lds.org and turnbacktogod.