My Mum always said we shouldn’t wash our dirty linen in public. Secrets, lies, and doubts about anything, particularly the godstuff, were for the privacy of our own kitchen and closed down before they got too heretical.
What mattered was unquestioning faith, cleanliness, and order, evidenced by the clean washing fluttering on the line. No rotary clothesline in our backyard. It would have only swung those annoying questions round for a second go.
When Good Friday dawned crisp and clear it seemed an excellent day to revive the delicious smell and feel of sun-kissed laundry. Perhaps a symbol of my holiday journey into what I might mean by faith.
This Easter I wanted to be aware of the festival but stay well away from authorized versions. I decided to trust my own internal quest, always a dangerous enterprise according to my Mum. She wasn’t wrong.
Whilst the washing soaked up the sun, I picked up my current book, Enemy, Cripple and Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path. As I struggled with the names of mythological heroes I’m not familiar with, some words slipped off the page and attached themselves to the biblical text embedded in me.
‘The fisherman’, said Erel Shalit, ‘pertains to the threshold of man’s psychic life and the very first stages of a germinating consciousness’.
As I streaked my neon yellow highlighter across the page, I wondered if the story of Jesus calling the fishermen at the side of the Lake Galilee could be a story about our psychic development. I don’t suppose the writer would have thought about it like that, instead, he might have found himself reaching for symbols that were common parlance at that time.
And what if the Easter story, resurrection included, could be a mythological tale that calls us to an exploration of the human condition. Like a Peter Jackson movie portal to what lies deep in the unconscious, the stuff that rises to trouble us.
All of this is a far cry from Mum’s plea that I believe Jesus literally died on the cross for my sins, which at that stage were pretty mundane and not, on reflection, worth his gargantuan effort.
Tragically, the Jesus story had trumped all others in our household. Stories of bloody sacrifice from other mythological heroic journeys that might have illuminated the human condition were lost to us, subsumed by victorious Christianity. Jesus had become an endpoint rather than a doorway to deeper meaning.
My Mum will be turning in her grave as my theological laundry flaps in the breeze and I reach for the stories she so assiduously rejected. But when you think about it, grave turning might just be the point of an Easter break.