Living Arts Weekly: Easter, New Life at Death

April 9, 2023

Today we have a touching story from Cynthia Aldinger, founder of LifeWays, about her reflections on her mother’s recent death during this sacred time leading up to Easter. I find it to be a very human, very heartfelt experience of the new life in death that is celebrated with Easter, but also that we could all relate to, regardless of religious or spiritual path. 

Hmmm . . . It must be Easter weekend.  It’s rainy and cold!  And I live in Sacramento, for cryin’ out loud!  How well I remember our Wisconsin Easters when our boys were growing up.  No hiding eggs the night before knowing they very well might be covered in snow the next day!  But this cold California April is unusual.  Maybe that is part of the beauty of Easter – it’s unpredictable and mysterious!  

While not everyone celebrates Easter from a religious perspective, perhaps we can all agree that it arrives at a time of year when things are shifting.  In the Northern Hemisphere, most of us can relate to the sense of renewal, resurrection if you will, of the forces of Nature.  That which has been lying dormant begins to awaken.  I do believe my tulips are the reddest I have ever seen this year!  This renewing force can often be experienced in our soul life as well.  I love this verse from Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul:

When from the depths of soul

The Spirit turns toward world existence

And beauty swells from space expanses,

Then streams from farthest heavens

The life force into human bodies;

Unites with mighty action

The Spirit essence to the life of Human Beings.

And in the Southern Hemisphere, where mid-autumn begins turning toward winter, the verse focuses on the awakening of human will and self-awareness:

Nature, your essence motherly,

I bear within the being of my will;

And my will’s fiery energy 

Shall fill my Spirit’s impulses with courage,

That they beget self-awareness

To hold my Self in me.

Each of these verses point toward transformation.  And perhaps the greatest transformation any of us will ever experience is that astonishing journey from physical life through the portal of death into the exploration of spirit.  The foundation of the Easter story centers around death and new life.  And what a gift when we can relate it to the changes we see in outer Nature and/or the changes we experience in our own will.

Mountains of Home by Kristen Lee Hagar

This Easter is an especially poignant one for me as I mark the seventh week since my mother left her body to begin her next spiritual journey.  We will celebrate her life May 30 when she would have turned 100!  With your blessing I would like to share a story from her last few days on earth.  My mother was not what one would call an “easy” person.  She was often dissatisfied and sometimes abrupt and angry, most usually with her closest family members.  This became magnified at times through her dementia.  In her final weeks that was no longer the case.  It was as if the darkness had lifted and light came shining through.  In those last few days her voice mostly became a whisper, and she could often be observed doing the most beautiful arm gestures, eyes closed or looking upward.  A few times, however, she seemed almost lucid, even humorous, as she shared stories or told jokes to visiting friends! And then came the day of the sermon. It was very brief, yet quite impactful.  She spoke directly to her visitors and said, “I have seen the truth. And the truth will set you free.  Freedom, freedom, freedom.  It’s the best!”  The next day in one of her whispering rambles, she lifted her arms straight up three times and said “Ready. Ready. Ready,” followed by “Yaaaay!”  On the day she passed, her breath first quickened, then slowed to a pant and then peacefully drifted to a close.  She had run the bases and made a home run.

The biggest gift this dear little person gave me was the gift of seeing that it is truly never too late to make a radical change in one’s life, and that death is not to be feared, but embraced.  This is my Easter story, and much like the original Easter story, I am eternally grateful for it!

With love,