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Journey to the East| The East of Easter

I’m on a #JourneytotheEast. It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking. And hence, a day of Easter during such endeavor is worth some more reflection.

No, I won’t bother you with selfie prayers about resurrection and redemption. Being not even halfway on this road to China, that would be very arrogant too. Also, more than a week before the end of Ramadan in which I find myself in the middle of, it wouldn’t be very timely. Maybe later…

What is topical for today however, is to relate the overarching story of this trip with this millennia old feast of new beginnings. Making a journey to the East not by a 12 hour flight, but by approaching it more than slowly on a day to day physical and mental effort for six months or so, means to grasp the East in all modes and manifestations. And to recognize the East even in the deepest of the deepest West as an indispensable dimension of life.

So, obviously, while hearing the muezzin in the background calling for Ramadan prayer, I ask myself why do some language chose Easter, Ostern and so on to describe this day, while others, including my native one, chose Pesach, Paques, Pasen. A difference that goes much further than arbitrary etymological sourcing. It may have to do with world views too.

Pasen, in my language, refers to Passover, a story from Exodus, in which Moses told his people to put lamb’s blood on their door posts as to indicate to the Angel of Death to pass over those houses, concentrating on killing the Egyptians as a punishment for what they did to the Jewish people. Pasen therefore, albeit justified by a sense of justice, refers to an exclusive variety of good fortune, so to speak.

So, on behalf of this journey, what can be read in Easter instead? Some etymologists think this word is derived from the pagan goddess Eastre, who was worshipped for fertility and renewal. Others may believe it comes from the age old awareness that light, and hence all conditions for new life, comes from the East. Whatever interpretation is right, they both refer to an inclusive idea of Spring as a Spring for everyone. So, I’m happy to write in English, so I can write sans rancune: Happy Easter to all!


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