Every Easter

This morning I woke up early. I wanted to get up and write, but with 7 kids mercifully asleep I didn’t dare risk getting out of bed lest they all be awakened from their slumber.

So I began to pray. As I thought and prayed about all I hadn’t gotten done yet on my list, the one I was most bothered by was the fact that I hadn’t finished the kids’ devotions for the month of April, including the Easter story. I felt a storm cloud of guilt and failure begin to build and head my direction, but I continued to pray and God lead me to think back on why I cling so desperately tightly to this particular holiday season.

My mind returned to Easters past–of me in my childhood in Haddon Heights, New Jersey shivering in the dell and sitting on freezing cold concrete slabs with my pink foam curlers in my still-slightly-damp hair listening to the pastor preach about Jesus rising from the dead as we watched the sun rise and turn the grey morning into a glorious yellow triumph.

I remember the year the dell wasn’t available for some reason, so the disappointed but die-hard church members piled into the stands of the public high school football field while our pastor stood on the track and preached to us. It was a little less climactic than being down in the dell…and a whole lot less artistic and natural, but we still went.

In Colorado one year my dad researched a route, timed and mapped a hike for our family that ended at the  top of a mountain where we drank Sunny D and white powdered donuts from our backpacks and watched the sun rise, each of us reflecting in our own silent way on the resurrection of Jesus and what it meant to us. How we looked forward to that sunrise–counting down the minutes, seconds, searching for tiny glimpses of light at the edge of earth-meets-sky, waiting for that first sliver of sun to spill over the dark crest of the mountaintop below us.

But this morning as I sleepily sifted through all of those sweet memories, I felt tears slip of my cheek and heard them quietly plop onto my pillow. I had no idea how poignant those memories from my elementary, tween and even teen years would be to me today at age 35. With little people of my own for whom I am crafting their childhood memories of Easter, and feeling like such a failure this year.

My eyes continued to quietly gush tears of how I long and yearn for a place to go take my family to eagerly await the sun rising on Easter morning they way I did as a little freckle-faced girl, and to talk about those years so long ago when God’s plan and Jesus’ sacrifice actually played out on this earth. But I feel  so unfamiliar with my new “hometown” and surroundings, that I don’t even know where I could or would go to make that beautiful memory happen.

Re-living those memories, I think understand now what I didn’t understand then. Why all the frail, little old gray-hairs in our church would get up so early to dress in their best, top it off with a winter coat and drag along a woolen blanket to sit on at such an early hour in the morning. Because they must have known then what I am starting to realize now.

Marrying, saying goodbye to familiar homes, taking and leaving jobs, birthing a firstborn son and two sparkly gigglesome daughters, adopting a big-brown-eyed little boy, saying shaky hellos, squeaking tear-riddled goodbyes, enduring depression, making hard choices, forging incredible memories, being hurt, having to ask for help, visiting third world countries, reveling in the mirth of family and friends, basking in the excitement of new adventures, persevering without context, crying and hugging around caskets, celebrating new births, smiling in proud parenthood, taking on challenges, committing to finish or leave well, and keening in the silence of loneliness, Jesus rising from the dead means more to me now than ever.

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