Jim Taylor column

Taylor: Singing to the sunrise Easter morning

Columnist walks the walk for an Easter sunrise service in the central Okanagan

The church congregation I belong to has held an Easter Sunrise service for at least 40 years.

The past two years, however, COVID-19 has thrown a virus into the works. Health restrictions prohibit any gathering of people. And any singing.

This year, for some reason that I cannot fully define, I felt that I needed a sunrise service.

If we couldn’t have one collectively, I decided, I would have one individually.

This is why I found myself, half an hour before dawn on Easter Sunday, climbing a steep trail up Spion Kop, a local peak.

Spion Kop is not really much of a mountain. At least, not here in rugged B.C. It rises about 1,700 feet (a little less than 600 metres) above Okanagan Lake, but it’s still lower than the mountains on either side of the lake.

I realized, as my feet stumbled up the rocky trail, that I was re-enacting a 2,000-year-old tale.

On Easter morning, the Bible says, the women disciples came to the tomb before dawn, to provide last rites for the man they believed in. They came as soon as it was light enough to see the path. They couldn’t come the day before, because it was the Sabbath, the prescribed day of rest, the day when devout Jews do nothing that could be considered work.

Jesus’ dead body had been taken down from the cross late on Friday, and hastily placed in a borrowed tomb.

The Sabbath began at sunset that day. It wouldn’t end until sunset on Saturday. Sunday morning was the earliest those women could prepare Jesus’ physical body for its final rest.

My feet were clad in hiking boots. Theirs would have been in sandals. But we both slipped on loose rocks. We heard gravel crunch under our soles. And we went in silence.

They came to the top of their ridge. And in the first rays of the new day, they saw that the rock which had been rolled to block the entrance to a cave dug into the rock had been rolled away.

And the tomb was empty.

Mark’s gospel more or less ends there, with the empty tomb. The other three gospels elaborate, providing details of interactions with angels, young men and Jesus himself.

I didn’t see any of those on my mountain.

I kept climbing until I reached a rocky knoll, beneath a tall Ponderosa pine.

The eastern sky was cloudy. Then, at just the right moment, the clouds parted for a few minutes. The bright yellow disk of the sun clawed its way through the black trees on the far ridge. Long shafts of sunlight flooded across my hillside.

And I sang. At the top of the hill, at the top of my lungs: “Morning has broken, like the first morning…”

And Jim Strathdee’s “Dance with the spirit, early in the morning…”

And the South African anthem, “We are marching in the light of God…”

I was still singing as I came down the mountain.

Most Easter sunrise services, we read the old story. We talk the talk.

This Easter, I walked the walk.

It was worth getting up before the sun.

Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.

rewrite@shaw.ca

Column

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Vernon car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Forward Elan Bar Lev Wise of the West Kelowna Warriors (right, shown playing for the Vernon Vipers in 2019) has been suspended nine games by the B.C. Hockey League for being the instigator and aggressor in an after-the-game fight with Vernon’s Kjell Kjemhus Monday, April 12, at Kal Tire Place. Kjemhus was given a two-game suspension for his role in the fight after the game was over. (Morning Star - file photo)
West Kelowna Warriors forward handed lengthy suspension

Elan Bar Lev Wise fought Vernon Vipers forward Kjell Kjemhus after BCHL game was over Monday, April 12; Kjemhus suspended two games

Vernon residents were able to bring propane fire pits down to Polson Park, between Jan. 25 - April 5 to enjoy with their family bubble, similar to those provided for residents at Predator Ridge. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Fire pits a flop in Vernon’s Polson Park

City spends estimated $2K on temporary program, few, if any take advantage; option closed now

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

WATCH: Conservation group releases short doc on saving South Okanagan’s ‘precious’ Sickle Point

Sickle Point, the last intact wetland near Skaha Lake, is facing the prospect of development

Most Read