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April 2021 - An egg for Easter

Friends,

I want to offer you an Easter Egg, but not of the painted or chocolate kind.

Imagine there are three domes, layered inside each other like the layers of an egg: yolk, white and shell. The inner dome, the yolk, is me and My Story. It is the smallest dome, and much of it is secret and hidden. It is my history, my personality and my identity. It is the inviolable and precious core of my being. But it is only me and my small life, and, as I grow, I cast around for meaning, belonging and significance. This is how we all start off, but if we stay here then we will remain self-referential, isolated, and, where self-actualization becomes the ultimate goal, an idol we worship.

The middle dome is the egg white and it is Our Story. It is community, tradition, nation, family, even a particular religion. It is the shared story of a people; it is our bigger identity and loyalty, and the invitation to a greater sense of self. It is a place of formation and belonging and growth. However, if I have an underdeveloped sense of self, an insecure identity, a lack of insight into, and ownership of, My Story, then I am vulnerable to being sucked into the stories of others, whether this is a kind of group-think, abandonment into the culture wars of identity politics, or my unquestioning submission to a religious system – the ultimate 'there is no “I” in team'. Perhaps we find this expressed in nationalism or communism, or, at their extremes, even veganism, feminism and any other 'ism' that demands loyalty to a group identity over any sense of self. At which point the only views I expound are our views, and conformity and uniformity are the goal.

Finally we have the shell of the egg, The Story. This is the story of the greater truth, the patterns that are true for all people, everywhere and always. Forgiveness and reconciliation are good in all circumstances, as is love and self-sacrifice. In all cultures, and in the best of all religions, The Story of love and joy and humility and patience and kindness, are all greater truths, as is the pattern of death and resurrection which is woven into the structures of the natural world. It would be arrogant to suggest that The Story is coterminous with any one religion. Good religion leads us to The Story, without having to be The Story. 

The three stories together protect us from the illusions that Our Story is The Story, and the smallness of My Story where there is identity without belonging. This is known as the 'Cosmic Egg'. Only when we understand that all three are worthy of love and attention, nurture and respect, can we develop into the fullness of our being.

Healthy individuals, healthy communities, mature spiritualities, hospitable nations are the ones who hold these three stories in balance. Easter possesses a universal truth, not simply because I believe it to be true as part of My Story, and not because it plays such a central part in the understanding of Our Story as a Christian people or a traditionally Christian nation, but because self-sacrificial love that conquers death is true for everyone, always, everywhere.

Nick Bird
your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the April 2021 issue of The Grapevine


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March 2021 - Death and new birth

February 2021 - Loving your neighbour

January 2021 - Mapping the peaks

December 2020 - Christmas is cancelled

November 2020 - Winter is coming

October 2020 - Tending my garden

September 2020 - Why I love Donald Trump

August 2020 - Coping Strategies

July 2020 - Lives Matter

June 2020 - Wisdom from the tradition: living with Covid-19

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