I’m thinking back on Easter weekend and trying to figure out what made it seem so full and rich this year.

No, I’m not thinking about chocolate, although I did have some dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds that was excellent! And it wasn’t the weather, even though we experienced almost all of the seasons in one weekend!

It was more the people and the visiting, the little traditions and memories of Easters past that made my heart feel full.

Another year older

In my family, we typically celebrate three birthdays on Easter weekend. This year we got together on Good Friday for a ham supper and one birthday cake for the three April babies. With two of us in our 50s and one in their 80s, it’s not like we’re overly thrilled to be another year older! But we managed to blow out all the candles on the first try, and we are very grateful for good health and clear minds. (OK, I admit that our ability to remember things is not what it used to be!)

There’s something about the birthday rituals we repeat throughout our lifetime that connect us to our past and to each other. They give us continuity and help us come to terms with aging and the seasons of life.

A life well lived

Saturday of Easter weekend was very different this year as we celebrated the life of my uncle who passed away at the age of 85.

He was a man of deep faith, and that was evident throughout the memorial service. His 3 adult children did an extensive eulogy and tribute, interwoven with songs they’d often sung with their Dad. This combination of stories and songs took us all on a journey through his life, and reminded us of the many occasions when our paths had crossed.

My uncle’s life included significant losses and many years of health challenges, but it was also filled with humour, hope and much love. The ceremony included the full range of emotions; it was powerful and healing. And during the coffee time afterward, it was the stories that people talked about – and how well they were crafted and delivered. (It helps to have family who are gifted in writing, public speaking and singing!)

Hope for new life

But death is not the end of the story, and on Easter Sunday Christians around the world celebrated resurrection, new life, and transformation.

The ceremony, rituals and traditions around Easter help us make sense of the cycle of death and new life that repeats itself in smaller ways throughout our own lives.

Each transition requires a letting go before we can start something new.

Each ending paves the way for a new beginning.

As a Celebrant, I’ve become keenly aware of how ceremony helps us process the major transitions in life. Whether its birthdays or end of life, career changes or marriage, gathering together as family and friends to share our stories draws us closer and helps us find meaning in the milestones in life.

In ceremonies and rituals, our hearts can be full of joy, love, loss, grief and abiding hope – sometimes all in one weekend!