Among the religious paths one may travel, that of the atheist can be unique. Our biggest pitfall lies in defining ourselves by our nonbelief, rather than our beliefs. When combined with anger, with shame and guilt, and with the ever freshly-laid macadam of betrayal, we may find ourselves wandering in our own wilderness. Once the first surge of courage subsides, comfort lies in the sure knowledge that one has rejected that to which so many others adhere.
Easter can present particular challenge for the atheist. Even the marginally religious find their way to church leaving the atheist to taste once again the bile of discarded myth and the oppression of social paradigm. We might get edgy and may be a little shorter of patience at this time of year. We love the crocus, the daffodil, and even the dandelion, but we resist the unbridled joy of springtime metaphors in favor of a balanced appreciation of all seasons.
The lesson for me came when I realized that atheism is not an end, but a freeing and glorious beginning. Released from the constructs of sacred and supernatural, the atheist plunges into the wonder and mystery of the cosmos as an equal partner with all existence. Freed of the tyranny of science and sentience, the atheist examines the unknowable fields and forces surrounding us
The atheist can know epiphany without a risen Christ and can appreciate the man Jesus and his message. The atheist can know the triumphal redemption of Passover beyond the temple rules and the bound of any one folklore. Easter and Passover represent the celebration of renewal, a feeling we all can marvel in and share.
This Easter, I will sit in my congregation’s worship service. I might actually listen to the words being spoken. But, mostly, I will be present with others, stretching out beyond this identifying shell to commune with the minds and souls around me. I will feast on the quick energy of chocolate, the sustaining strength of my fellow humans, and the raw power of the universe.