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Updated: Mar 27

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead and his eyes are dimmed.”― Albert Einstein

It’s the season of a gargantuan miracle story in Christianity. Easter. Jesus rising from the dead. Let’s ponder the impossible together for a while.  Have a seat, a cup of tea.

Mystery. Marvel. When I say those words, a vivid mental image of my father holding a seed pops up.  He teared as he held the seed, spoke of the miracle of life, the magic held within the seed.  He tried to help me “get it” – the beautiful impossibility of it all.  I wish I could say I had even the slightest sense of what he was experiencing.

It reminded me of the initial thick headedness of Alice (Alice in Wonderland) when she says, “One can’t believe impossible things.” The Queen retorts, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice…when I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast….”

I’m working on it.

Where we live is called Flowery Divide (the reason can be seen as Spring wakes up).  Over fifty years ago, Cashmere folks put a cross on the hill. They celebrated Easter Sunrise service at that cross.

Some people have said that the Flowery Divide hill is a “thin place” or space. That terminology – thin place has been a bit overworked lately in some circles, but it’s the idea originating with the 5th century Christian Celts, particularly on the Scottish Isle of Iona, that some locations are more mystical – that the boundary between the physical realm and the spiritual realm is so close that you can have one foot in each at the same time.

A thin place is like a spiritual portal. Some say we can have thin moments of sacred encounters through many portals, through a deep conversation, time in nature, sitting around a fire, listening to music, reading or listening to a story or a passage which transports us to a new consciousness, a new reality.

The Easter story can function as a portal perhaps for people of a particular religious slant. We may literally believe the full scriptural report of the Christian Easter story. Others may think of it more metaphorically - that the story is true whether or not it happened exactly as the gospels purport.


What is true really? I am convinced of this crazy thing. Life in abundance cannot be closed up. Nothing can separate us from love, hope, joy. Not death, not political polarization, not COVID, not brutal abuse, nor anything under the sun.

In 2020. We were told not to gather as people have on Flowery Divide. It was depressing. Everything looked bleak.

But then John and our grandson, Eli, and one or two of his pet dinosaurs decided nothing could stop us from celebrating. We had a fire, said a few words, and had communion.

I looked around Flowery Divide with new conviction …and decided that maybe it's not all about opening ourselves to stepping into thin places but just as much about doing all we can to slip through the malaise brought on by thickness of the mind and spirit. It’s hard to slip out of that thick headedness, that fog, when we are ourselves locked away – entombed…relying on our cell phones to pull us out of our funk.

But on Easter, some get up early... in the chill and still of darkness...and choose to give it a shot… come out whether it rains or shines to metaphorically imagine a stone rolled away, an empty tomb,.. to come out of the tomb ourselves...together - to celebrate both the human and the Divine spirit alive in us and everywhere, everywhen…….(We’ll come back to this).

But for some this Easter thing, this miracle thing, this religion and spirituality thing is a big stretch. Why even try? It doesn't make sense. Maybe it's even bad.

We know that the story of religion is mixed. Religion has been used many times to incite violence, hatred, and prejudice rather than what many consider the essence of all religions – love of neighbor. That hatred has scared many away. Rightly so.

Spirituality and religiousness as well, however, is grounded in the conviction that there is a transcendent (nonphysical) dimension of life. Spiritual people feel life has a purpose, that there is a Sacred force in all living things and that this force connects us to each other. The word “spiritual” is derived from the Latin word “spiritus” and means the breath of life.

Historically, spiritus has also been used as a synonym for wisdom, intelligence, the capacity to reason, and the soul or any nonphysical life force. However, in the earliest passages of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible there is a concrete reference to the meaning of spiritus.

In the book of Genesis, the first human became fully alive only after God breathed “the breath of life” into him. Through that breath God accomplished a profound level of intimacy with humans and also infused an essential – enlivening sacred aspect. That breath was associated with creativity, the capacity of love, compassion, goodness, harmony, growth, and peace. A beautiful story.

What are the consequences associated with spirituality from a scientific perspective? According to the research to date, many people do a lot better physically and emotionally. They have better relationships, stronger marriages. They experience more meaning in life.

This Easter it might be worth considering the benefits of spirituality, perhaps even religion…at its best.

An article by Stephen Cranney offers that the debates about the impact of religion in the world have been going on for a long time. He claims that there is one facet of that debate, however, which, scientifically speaking, is largely settled. (And I must insert here that my attention was drawn to this research in a forum for psychologists and life coaches who are interested in factors affecting “the good life”). Here is some of the research and largely taken from The Handbook of Religion and Health. Religiosity and life satisfaction are highly correlated.

Just because something is correlated, of course, doesn’t imply causation, so just because religion and happiness tend to go together does not mean that religion causes happiness. Yet this same Oxford book found a dozen studies that were randomized control trials — the gold standard of establishing cause and effect — where people were randomly assigned to different religious interventions, and in more than half of them, simply assigning people to various interventions encouraging them to be more religious led to measurable increases in happiness.

The finding of a relationship between happiness and religiosity is so established that many research papers take it as a given starting point. Old news. The religious are almost always happier [and happy people are more likely to be prosocial - helping sorts, just as prosocial people are more likely to be happy].

But why? It is true that we are social creatures, and that religion provides precious social connections and networks that are in short supply in the year 2024. Many people point to this as one possible reason. No question it plays a role.

However, more individual, less social aspects of faith, such as religious beliefs and prayer, also show positive influences on well-being. This evidence of benefits from believing in, and communicating with, a higher power suggests that something big bleeds over into well-being. And consider this for a moment, perhaps it’s about religious people daring to open themselves to impossibilities, slipping out of thick-headedness.

Brian Doyle writes what some call “proems.” Prayer-like poems.  One is Prayer on Easter Morning.

Yes, my mind knows that this [Easter celebration] is clearly riffing on ancient rebirth rituals to honor life returning from what was seemingly forever dead and icey and life-less ground…yet my heart leaps, and my soul is delighted and my mouth is filled with joy, for Easter is undeniably the coolest of our annual high holy days, the day when that which we believe unbelievably to be true is shouted from churches and chapels around the world, in every language, by people of every age. This is the day when we admit, smiling, that the essence of faith doesn’t make sense and isn’t physically possible; how great and brave is that?  How refreshing, to not make sense for once, how refreshing to remember that we are sworn to live by our conviction that there is so much more beyond sense? And so: amen.

I was considering all of this while reading an article about what’s called the Hubble tension problem (basically about the universe expanding…galaxies moving away from each other and some puzzling measurement differences which wakes up that “fundamental emotion" of mystery that Einstein mentions) when I read a story of a man who survived what he calls “obliteration.” It awakened my fundamental emotion of wonder and mystery in how one human defied "death."

It's an impossible story about Antonio Salazar-Hobson (in The Guardian) who was kidnapped for sex-trafficking at four.  His story is brutal and painful to read. He didn’t see his family for twenty-four years. But this little guy “navigated a path through hell” leaning on a higher purpose. His story is way more than what happened to him, but what he became, a wildly successful civil rights attorney. 

Salazar-Hobson says, “I chose not to be obliterated by the abuse and trauma I was forced to endure,” he says. “Instead of being swallowed by the darkness, I survived by walking towards the light.”


Salazar-Hobson now plans to dedicate the rest of his life to the anti-trafficking movement. “It is my hope that somehow my story can be of service to the community of survivors of sexual assault and trafficking; what happened to me can show other kids that they don’t have to be ashamed, that they can rise up to become whoever they want to be….”

 Incredible! It helps me slip out of my thick-headedness of what is possible.

When we open ourselves to experience impossibilities... that death in it's many forms can be defied, the universe as we know it “warbles.” Perhaps we too may emerge from the cynical, despairing tomb…. unleash the human spirit and the cosmic forces of love, joy, peace, hope, and the totally unimaginable.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24

How might we use this Easter season to journey together to The Good Life by opening ourselves to impossibilities - miracles, mysteries, spirituality, and the best of religion?



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