By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels
I had planned to take my Grandson Brendan Graves on a golf outing this week as a Birthday gift and did so on Tuesday. As we made the trek to Allegheny Hills in Rushford, NY it dawned on me that his Birthday on Sunday coincided with Easter Sunday. Given the birthday coincidence and having run across a poem that I wrote about church while still in my teens, it seemed appropriate that I write this week’s article in honor of the convergence of the occasions.
Let me confess the conflicting nature between my “beliefs” and my active participation in formal religious activities. I am a “believer” and practice my faith in ways that might not agree with the strictest adherence to the formalities of attending church on a regular basis. I was first “saved” and accepted the Christian way as a teenager while visiting relatives in Buffalo. My religious attendance at formal gatherings has been hit and miss over the years, but other than streaks here and there has not been consistent. Growing up in the hamlet of Nile, NY, I occasionally attended services at the Nile Evangelical United Brethren church, later known as the Nile Community Church and now known as “Followers of The Way” church. Upon the passing of Stepfather Paul Miles in 1980, Pastor G. Edward Hillard, who officiated that funeral became a great comfort to my mother Frances (Wiser) Miles. I was so moved by the compassion he showed to my mother, that I started attending that church again on a regular basis and was Baptized by him at that time. When that pastor’s journey took him and his family elsewhere, I lost the commitment to formal attendance. I switched over to the Congregational Church in Wellsville after that and had the most heart-warming experience when the pastor asked the congregation one Sunday if anyone wanted to make any announcements and my very young daughter raised her hand and said, “Today is my father’s Birthday”.
Easter is a special holiday celebrated by Christians in remembrance and reverence of the resurrection of Jesus. It is most likely the most complicated, timing wise, as the occasion is celebrated and “calendared” based on the celestial timing of the Spring, equinox, formally known as the “Vernal Equinox”. It is typically observed on the Sunday following the first full moon in the Northern Hemisphere, or the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The exact calendar date varies as well, by which calendar is followed depending on particular Christian “traditions” or sect, or if the equinox happens to fall on a Sunday as well. March 22nd is the earliest possible date for Easter and April 25th is the latest. The March 22nd date is the rarest, last having occurred in1818, and the next not until 2285. The last Easter celebration observed on April 25th was in 1943 with the next on that date not until the year 2038.
In addition to the religious significance of the Easter holiday, it is also secularly celebrated as well by many, as the first real holiday of Spring and the promise that it brings.
It is typically an extremely emotional holiday observance, especially with the solemnity of the accompanying Good Friday observances. By far the most emotional for me was experienced during a Good Friday performance one year as a member of the Genesee Valley Chorus. We performed a Cantata, I believe which went by the name “Rise Again”, featuring a song by the same name. David Dunbar the director of this musical group and Director of Music at Portville Central School sang the “title song”. Dave was a singer of some renown in his own right, with a beautiful, powerful, tenor voice, and it was certainly ethereal that day. Never before or since have I been so emotionally affected by the performance and message of a song. I still have goose bumps every time I recall that performance.
The poem shown below was written by me at an early teen age. Poems, to me, should rhyme but in the many contests I have entered, many of the other entries are written completely without rhyme. It’s not really poetry to me, but in this case, it was a collection of my young “spiritual” feelings and questions, best answered by those perhaps more knowledgeable of such things.