Today is Easter Sunday, the high point on the Christian calendar and a powerful symbol of rebirth, renewal and hope.

I believe the year has two starting points. The first happens on Jan. 1, with the noise, kissing and champagne toasts. The second happens at Easter as the world shakes off winter, my beloved Padres have yet to drop to fifth in the National League West, and the promise of long warm days spreads before us.

As it happens, my birthday also falls around Easter, so I may have a bit of a selfish reason for liking the holiday so much.

Now please don't be concerned this is going to be a preachy piece. Like almost all of my peers and friends, I have a deeply complicated relationship with my Roman Catholic faith and upbringing. I found the church's handling of its sex scandals shameful, and Cardinal Roger Mahony's cover-ups during that dark time sickening.

I believe the teachings prohibiting women clergy and birth control are lost in a time that never was and protect an ideal at the expense of human beings. I find it frankly amazing that rabid right-winger Rick Santorum and I share, at least in name, the same tradition.

Churches, of course, are made of human beings, and human beings occasionally disappoint. God, in his irritatingly unknowable way, created us this way. But human beings also amaze, inspire and create joy, and God did that, too.

So, whatever your faith, however complicated or sure your feelings are about God or a lack of one, please take a moment today to think about the year so far. Think about those resolutions you made on Jan. 1, and probably abandoned on Jan. 5. Think about how you want to live your life, think about how you treat others.

Life can get extraordinarily busy. We can forget that making that phone call, meeting up for a drink or a cup of coffee is not the extraneous part of life; it is life.

So to that end, take today as a reason to begin anew, to call a friend or relative you haven't talked to in too long, to bury a grudge, or just let your harried mind relax for a moment. The day is supposed to be about peace. Spread some around, and you'll get it for yourself.

---

On a totally unrelated note, I want to take a few paragraphs to announce a couple of improvements to our websites. We launched our expanded calendar sections about a month ago, which gives readers an easy way to see what's going on in their communities. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve things, please send me a note.

Second, we launched our “Community” sections last week. You can find this section in the main navigation bar on the home page. These pages provide an online home for service club news, society photos, columnists and letters to the editor. Please give it a look and let me know what you think.

Finally, we're in the process of getting together community advisory boards. These boards will meet four times each year and will be tasked with providing us with feedback on how well we're truly serving our communities. Drop me a line for more details, or if you're interested in participating.

As always, thanks for reading.

DAN EVANS is the editor. He'll be relaxing with his family in San Diego this weekend, but he'll get back to you Monday at dan.evans@latimes.com or (818) 637-3234.