This is a red-letter day

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they can’t silence the voices of despair, can’t quell the urge to quit, can no longer exist as they have all their lives. 

They reach a point when they realize that the dream job, the dream relationship, the dream life, everything they worked for, as wonderful as they all are, are not enough.

Some deaden themselves with alcohol, drugs, sex, a new house, a new car, a new TV, things. But for those who hunger for something more spiritual, today is a good day to start looking.

We can transform ourselves any day, any moment. Nothing chains us to the past other than our thoughts. We don’t have to wait until next week, next year or when we retire to weave a cocoon  or to rise in phoenix fire.

But Easter Sunday is synonymous with transformation. Just as the butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, Jesus emerged after three days in the darkness of his tomb, changed and translucent.

We could start our process by chewing on the words in red. In older Bibles, the words of Jesus were in red, maybe to remind the reader this was important, that the black letters were the gravel that kept the gold nuggets in place.

Western civilization has marked Easter Sunday as a red-letter day, or used to on older calendars, as the day of transformation. But politics and religion aside, whether he was a man or a god is irrelevant; we can use his life and teaching as a template.

Whether he turned water into wine, fed the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves, raised Lazarus from the dead, or whether he died on that cross, or was even on the cross, matters not because his teaching can be transformative, as it has been for millions of people.

Even if we don’t believe in God, the words in red can stand as a philosophy; they still reverberate and roll like thunder through the millennia.

Sure, sometimes those red words were twisted to fit someone else’s agenda, but if we listen to their intent and majesty, it’s possible to go beyond the history, the politics and the religion, to hear the echo of transformation.

Some of the words in red include:

  • It is done unto you as you believe
  • The kingdom of heaven is within you.
  • All these things that I have done, you can do and greater things.
  • It is not written in your law, I have said, ye are gods?
  • Forgive.
  • In everything, give thanks.

Some of the most profound words in red are in the Sermon on the Mount, which include the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus’ version of the Golden Rule. (“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”)

If we lived the words in red, even if we have never walked past a church, much of the anxiety cloaking and choking a good chunk of Western society would evaporate.

The World Health Organization has decreed that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health problem in the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s London, Rome, Toronto, the Okanagan or any place in the Third World, anxiety is a plague.

And these are just the parts that have a touching resemblance to normalcy; imagine what it’s like in Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan….

What’s happening there makes our anxiety appear small, but since it’s personal to us, the circumstances surrounding the dis-ease is often irrelevant to the magnitude. If, as Jesus said, it is done onto us as we believe, we induce our own anxiety, our own fear, our own dread.

“Our beliefs are like filters between us and the truth,” Ernest Holmes writes in Science of Mind.

The truth is we have no control, but we want it desperately so we can feel safe, secure in the knowledge that nothing bad will ever happen to us and ours. But that is an illusion.

Jesus taught not my will, but thine.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

While biblical teaching can point the way, all transformation starts from inside. We walk into the tomb willingly, but we have no choice about what emerges from the dark.

“What you run away from, runs you. What you face, you master. This is the path to enlightenment,” Alan Cohen writes in Dare to be Yourself. “Seek to use everything that come into your world for your transformation.”

As we age and gravity works a profound change, even the most secular would like a little transformation, a nip here, a tuck there, a dye job, a teeth whitening, a personal trainer who will force us to sweat ourselves into the body we had at 21.

But sometimes the outward change is merely the beginning of the inner transformation.

While we start the process, eventually the process takes over and we’re along for the ride. We pay the tolls on a one-way street and there’s no turning around, no matter how much we would like to.

“Unless and until a man embarks on this quest of the true Self, doubt and uncertainty will follow his footsteps though life,” said Ramana Maharshi, a Christ-like figure and one of the great saints of India.

“What’s the use of knowing about everything else when you don’t know who you are? Men avoid this inquiry into the true Self, but what else is there so worthy to be undertaken?”

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ross Freake, a former managing editor of The Daily Courier, has worked at 11 newspapers from St. John's to Kamloops. He is the author of three books and the editor and ghost writer of many others.

He can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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