Pandemic Passover and Easter: Faith without form
by Bob Schwartz
Our religious traditions, from their beginnings, have been about form. Practices, beliefs, texts, communities. These are all forms that are required, recommended, unifying.
It is unavoidable to see an identity between the traditions and forms. That is, the point of the traditions seems to be the forms themselves.
There is a Zen thought that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. We point because the finger shows us which way to go and where something may be found. But the finger is not the way or the thing. The form is not the way or the thing.
There is unique value in gathering around the Passover table, following the order (seder) of together retelling a central story. There is unique value in gathering in church on Easter Sunday and retelling another central story.
The Passover seder is important but not essential. The Easter service is important but not essential. These are forms, the finger pointing at the moon.
What exactly is the moon of Passover and the moon of Easter? To be transformed and to transform the world and all the people in it. If you need examples of that, just look at the central stories of the two holidays and the teachings that surround them. You and the world start off one way and, by the time you are done wandering, you and the world are better. The dark places are a little bit lighter.
How do you get there? You take part in a seder, in person or virtually, or maybe you don’t. You attend a church service, in person or virtually, or maybe you don’t. You wander in a wilderness and find yourself and something new. You die and are reborn spiritually. The seder and the service are forms, valuable but not necessary. You can wander and arrive without them.
Apart but not alone, happy Passover and happy Easter.