The power of the Resurrection

For Greeks, whether they be religious or not, Easter is the holiday they celebrate even more than Christmas, with its message of hope and redemption. We can see this especially in the Good Friday service, in which we honor Christ but in which each also remembers and honors his or her lost ones. With Easter, Christianity and pagan rites come together, as do spirituality with the renewal of nature. The tradition of Greeks leaving the cities for the countryside – either as visitors or returning home to aging parents in the villages – brings all of these forces together, reinforcing Christ’s message that he rose from the dead so as to offer us new life. At a time in which Greeks are in danger of losing many of their traditions, this celebration of the spiritual combined with enjoyment of the unique natural beauty of the Greek countryside becomes even more important for each one of us. Last year we celebrated the Resurrection under the shadow of the war in Iraq – which had an unsettling and depressing effect on us – but which also carried hopes for a possible solution for the Cyprus problem and for a better future for our country. This year we awaited the message of the Resurrection during a period in which this same war has been rekindled, and the tensions have been magnified so much that they loom as tangible threats, especially to our country which is preparing to host the Olympic Games. This has also been a period in which optimism for an eventual breakthrough on Cyprus has given way to a serious dilemma, and when our faith in our accomplishments has been replaced by doubts about what we actually have achieved and in which areas we are still woefully behind our European Union counterparts. Within this climate of uncertainty and questioning, the Greek Orthodox Easter offered support with its message rooted in spirituality and nature, namely: «Draw strength» – from the springtime rebirth and from that God whose faith in man was so strong that he created himself in his image and then allowed him to be crucified; from night-time hymns to the celebration of the Easter feast; from the reunion with friends and family and the return to one’s village or country, the Greek Orthodox Easter reminded us again of the charm of life and of the importance of moderation. It reminded us of the need to distance ourselves from everyday vanities and trivialities, to realize the essence of the journey which is life, to reimmerse ourselves in the real values of society which get lost in the everyday hustle and bustle. Over this Easter holiday, we gathered our strength and remembered our values. Let us not forget them today on our return to our daily routine…

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