In his treatise Poetics, Aristoteles defines tragedy as “…an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . . ”
There is an unbroken link that connects Persephone’s journey to the kingdom of Hades and her return on earth, to the passion of Christ. I think that is why Easter has resonated so strongly with generations and generations of people. It tells the true story of humanity, mortality, pain, loss, renewal and hope. Regardless of how many times it is told, it still has the power to move.
This Sunday I went to Easter mass. When entering the church I noticed the Syrian man sitting at a bench across mine. My visits are occasional and whimsical. His on the other hand seem to be very regular. I once tried to converse with him at the church coffee. Unfortunately, we had no language in common, so I just managed to extract some basic information. He showed me a picture of his wife. I nodded. I introduced him to my mother. He nodded. I asked him if he is orthodox and he nodded again. We smiled and sipped on our teas and coffees and turned around to continue with our conversation.
He must be quite much outside his comfort zone I thought. A refugee in a remote country in the very north of another continent. A middle-eastern man in a bright ornament free protestant church with a female priest singing with an angel’s voice to the bombastic sounds of the ecclesiastic organ. All in an unknown language with obscure phonetics. This time, when mass was over, I saw a woman approaching him and trying to talk to him using her body language and hands to illustrate her questions. It is hopeful when people don’t give up on communication.
This year, the bright week coincided with the bombings in Brussels. My Facebook feed was full of status updates of friends saying they are safe, which is such a relief. Shortly after I had gotten my first job in Brussels 9/11 happened. I remember the contrast of my life advancing against the backdrop of a crazy world.
While reading the news and updates on the people that have lost their lives during the tragic events of last week, I recognised a familiar face in David Dixon, a Briton living in Brussels. I am quite sure that we were yoga classmates back in 2003. Nathalie’s class in Uccle, remember? He seemed like a very kind and positive person David. My thoughts go to the victims, their families and friends.
So yes, Easter is a reflection of life with its miracles and flaws. A chocolate egg wrapped in layers of heavy, unpleasant feelings that you need to peel off before you can bite into its sweetness. Still, despite all the imperfections of human nature, winter is once again transiting into spring. Every time is unique. Every time is once in a lifetime.