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Holy Times!

by Michael Ketterhagen

You wouldn’t know it, if you looked at the suffering in Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and parts of Iraq, but these are holy times in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. All the three major religions of the people of that region are celebrating “high holy days”—Passover in Judaism, Easter in Orthodox Christianity, and Ramadan in Islam. Here in the Protestant and Roman Christian West we celebrate all three “high holy days” as well.

Each of these religions celebrate the wonderful joy of the beginning of Spring. They rejoice over the belief that out of death comes life. In Judaism, out of the death of a lamb the angel of death passed over the Hebrew people in Egypt. In Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. In Islam, the month-long period of fasting would bring believers closer to a new life with Allah.

All of these religious traditions understood that death and destruction, pain and suffering, sacrifice and toil never was the end. New life always continued. They each are celebrating their faith that the Lord of Life will protect and bless all those who bear the horrible circumstances of the present, for the future was filled with new beginnings.

It is the same for all of us humans. Out of the death of our mother’s ovum (egg) and the death of our father’s sperm, we were born. All of life is this cycle of death and rebirth.

It is hard to remember that fact when we are going through the suffering, but it is a cosmic, perpetual fact. Even the experience of the death of winter, although many Northerners in the U.S. and Europe run to the South for sun and warmth, brings us into Spring.

The Yoga Tradition recognizes this pattern of creation-new life in its explanation of the Divine Source of Life—Brahman (the Creator), Vishnu (the Sustainer), and Shiva (the Dissolver). This trinitarian experience of reality is the reality of the Divine working in today’s world. That is often hard to honor and praise, but in our spiritual journey we need to recognize that the Divine Source of Life is with us all the time, even in the death and destruction times, the pain and agony times, because new life is emerging.

As we work as hard as we can to lovingly sustain life, peace and justice, we must believe in the reality that life comes from death and suffering. We must hang onto this belief, especially at this time of “high holy days.”

I pray to the divinity within you!

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