Photo courtesy Aniket Bhattacharya

In this piece we observe a conversation between a Pagan and a Christian about the meaning of their respective spring holidays and the theological significance for them. They are both influenced by process and relational thinking, and that approach has allowed their friendship to flourish in wonder and exploration. They are two very different people, but their friendship is warm and full of discovery. There are many lessons to be learned here but, most importantly, that a process-relational approach to friendship has many layers. We find curiosity, discovery, warmth, and change as each person impacts the other.

May your holidays of hope and renewal be filled with as much affection as we find here in this conversation between Clarence White and Kat Reeves.

“A world without dialogue is a universe of darkness. If people don't get together and share views and exchange ideas, they remain unaware, ignorant, and unconscious. As they live in a space that they don't understand, everything becomes meaningless, incoherent, and forcefully scary. If fear rules our lives, we lose the core of our being, since 'fear' is disrupting the schedule of our existence, and blocks the waves of the good vibrations.”

—Erik Pevernagie

My Dear Friend Clarence,

We are entering the time of renewal, when the earth wakes with celebrations of tulips and quince. As a pagan, I celebrate the season of Ostara. This pagan holiday is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. Ostara celebrates the Spring Equinox. The word Ostara comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess name, Eostre, who represents spring and new beginnings. After the cold winter, we look forward to the earth coming to life again. The winter was a time of hibernation, resting and recharging. The earth seemed to go to sleep, a death-like sleep. But now she is alive, reminding us that life is full of its cycles.  I know this is a time of rejoicing for you as well. Easter is coming. Can you tell me what Easter means to you as a liberal Christian?

Bright Blessings

Your friend,


My Dear Friend Kat,

I am always so happy for Spring! As a 63-year-old man with both cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease, winter can be difficult for me due to how it can complicate my mobility. I am a big baseball fan, and I look forward to when the games begin in March. I think part of me is excited for baseball because I know that the easier time of year for me is beginning.

Easter means to me what it means to so many Christians, liberal and conservative. I do believe Jesus Christ was—bodily—resurrected from the dead. Some of my liberal friends "spiritualize" the resurrection.  I think that is legitimate too. The themes of life overcoming death are abundant with imagery which applies to all facets of life. But I do think that Jesus was really resurrected, and he is so real to me as a person with whom I am in relationship.

I have had some mystical experiences in my Christian life and experiences. I know they are of a subjective nature. That is not a bad thing because we are subjects. We are part of the "I-Thou" relationship which Martin Buber characterized. These experiences bring the resurrection home to me in a powerful way because death does not get the last word.

One of my own experiences happened in the Catholic church I attend. I was sitting all alone in the church and I looked up at the crucifix.  I said, "Lord, I can see all your wounds."  I felt like Jesus spoke back to me, "That's OK because I see all of yours." Part of Easter is that I know because of the resurrection, I am never facing my difficulties alone.

Before becoming Catholic, I was a Quaker Christian. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, encountered Jesus in a period of his life where he was in a place of spiritual darkness. When we dialogued, you and I, around Christmas, we rejoiced in our shared emphasis on the imagery of light. For Fox, for me, for many Christians, the Resurrected Christ represents the triumph of that light, just like Christmas represents the emergence of the light.

Fox described his encounter with the light of Christ in the midst of his darkness this way:

I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.

Christmas brings the light to us, and Easter assures us that darkness will never overcome it.

Much love,



Photo courtesy Valentin Hintikka

My Dear Friend Clarence,

Yes, the return of light is such an important symbol.

The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is equal, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance. For a moment, life is held in a liminal space, where light and dark, life and death are in perfect balance. I can see Christ existing as dead and alive in that moment. As the earth leans into the light, life emerges and rules the season.

In the past people mapped their whole lives according to the patterns of nature. As a pagan, I have gotten into a pattern that celebrates and acknowledges the seasons. As your Bible says, “ For Everything there is a season”. That speaks to me of change and movement.

As I decorate my house with my Ostara decorations, I think of the symbols whose meanings are shared if not the symbols themselves. I have a bowl of painted eggs, carved wooden eggs, stone eggs, and fragile colored eggs. Some historians believe Easter eggs came from Anglo-Saxon festivals in the spring to celebrate pagan goddess Eostre. No matter the origin, for modern pagans the eggs are a symbol of life. The egg is possibility held within a fragile shell.

Ēostre’s sacred animal symbol is the hare. For pagans, spring is a time of fertility and pleasure. We are not people of the book. Paganism is a nature religion, and we listen to the earth’s stories. We are body, pleasure, and sexuality positive (as opposed to shame-based). Our values are about attainment of joy, pleasure, and wisdom in this life, not transcending “sin” or achieving “salvation” in another.

Although we don’t have scripture, we do have poetry, prose and prayer. One of our most beautiful writings is The Charge of The Goddess by Doreen Valiente.

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who was of old also called Artemis; Astarte; Diana; Melusine; Aphrodite; Cerridwen; Dana; Arianrhod; Isis; Bride; and by many other names.

Whenever ye have need of anything, once in a month, and better it be when the Moon be full, then ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all Witcheries.

There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not yet won its deepest secrets: to these will I teach things that are yet unknown.

And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye are really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.

For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and mine also is joy on earth; for my Law is Love unto all Beings.

Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it; let naught stop you or turn you aside.

For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth; and mine is the Cup of the Wine of Life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality.

I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold I am the Mother of All Living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven; whose body encircleth the Universe; I, who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the heart’s desire, call unto thy soul. Arise and come unto me.

For I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the universe; from me all things proceed, and unto me must all things return; and before my face, beloved of gods and mortals, thine inmost divine self shall be unfolded in the rapture of infinite joy.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.

For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

This is the time of year for pagans to plants the seeds that will become the summer harvest. This is a magical working to bring our possibilities into existence.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”

Ostara leads us toward Beltane and the maypole when the God and the Goddess consummate their union and the earth rejoices in abundance.

With much love and respect,



Photo courtesy Jan Kopřiva

Dearest Kat,

Poetry and prose are the language of the heart, the language of relationship.  It is no wonder people who find themselves in love wax poetic about it.  Cold, fact-based language just do not do it.

For me, Easter, as I said in my last note to you, tells me I am not alone.  At its heart, then, it is all about relationship.  That is a theme which is important to both of us as process thinkers.   Because everything is interconnected, the resurrection affects everything.  St. Paul tells us that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."  There has been a strain of belief in universal redemption all through the history of Christianity.  I have not decided whether I identify with universalism or not, but it is something which is definitely part of Christianity's DNA.

I love the quote you ended with:

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”

I think most Christians should find that resonant.  (Maybe they don't, but I think they should.)  Resurrection means there is no clear division between the secular and the sacred, the mundane and the holy.   The Christian monastic tradition, and the Benedictine tradition in particular, point out that as a Christian, everything we do should be elevated to the holy.  Whether writing a sermon, or grading an ethics essay, or working around the house with my wife, it all is holy.  Benedict in his rule, for his monks, made sure to emphasize that their work was "whatever needs done."  My Quaker mentor, D. Elton Trueblood, stressed there is no such thing as menial work because, as a Christian, all work is infused with meaning.   The Benedictine motto of "ora et labora" means prayer and work.  There is no division of sacred and secular in a Christian's vocation because it is all redeemed in Christ.  His resurrection gives purpose and meaning to all we do.

You are my beloved friend.


“The point is, being a Christian does not mean hating or belittling the non-Christians. Being a Muslim does not mean hating or belittling the non-Muslims. Being an Atheist does not mean hating or belittling the religious people. In a civilized society, diversity in religious orientation should be the reason for celebration, not the cause for hatred and differentiation.”

—Abhijit Naskar

My Dear Friend Clarence,

You are also my beloved friend.

I think we agree on so many points. In spring, I come of my winter hibernation feeling refreshed and ready to work in my garden. I feel the land awaking and my place in the ecosystem is apparent. This is anything but lonely. I feel the relationality of the world most intensely in spring.

There are some upon which we differ and that is okay.  I really love that idea that everything we do should be elevated to the holy. I am interested in this line that you wrote,

There is no division of sacred and secular in a Christian's vocation because it is all redeemed in Christ.

Pagans have a problem with the word redeemed. For me, there is no need to compensate for the faults or bad aspects of the natural world because it balances itself.  Pagans affirm the inherent worth of every person, rather than believing in “original sin”. Our values are about attainment of joy and wisdom in this life, not transcending “sin” or achieving “salvation” in another.

What we do share in common is the belief in new life. For pagans this is a cycle of the  seasons. For Christians, I imagine it happened with the resurrection. That new life offers the gift of hope and we all can use hope these days.

Your friend,



Photo courtesy Victor Larracuente


  • Kathleen Reeves

    Kathleen Reeves is the community relations specialist at the Cobb Institute, and leads the Institute’s group for spiritual exploration and the arts. She also serves on the communications team and assists with the Institute's social media messaging.