March 26, 2016 11:09:07 PM
Happy Easter! Today is the highest holy day in the Christian calendar, and we rejoice on many levels. I have been reflecting on what Easter meant to me at various stages of my life. It is probably much like yours.
My first memory of Easter was when our family lived in an upstairs apartment in Washington, D.C. I was an only child then, still preschool. At twilight of the day before Easter, Gossie (I called my father Gossie instead of Daddy) looked out the window to the back yard.
"Hey!" he exclaimed. "I thought I saw a rabbit hopping around in the yard!"
"Where?" I cried. "Was it white?"
"No. It was sorta gray, but that could be just the light." That seemed realistic.
"Let me see. Let me see!"
I looked out, but the only movement I saw was just the wind rustling the leaves of some bushes. There was so sign of an Easter bunny, not even a gray one. Still ...
Somehow, during that night, that elusive rabbit must have found its way into the house and upstairs to our apartment. It had left a few pastel eggs hidden around the place. The first one I saw, just beside my bed, was bright yellow with a little black chick depicted on the side. It was the first Easter egg I ever remembered finding. For some reason no other Easter egg seems as important as that one, found inside, not on a lawn, on an early gray morning.
Many Easter eggs followed, especially in later years when we had moved farther into the sunny south, when my baby sister had become a toddler. One year the pastel eggs were complemented dramatically by another burst of color, two tiny chicks, dyed pink and green. (Colored chicks were popular in those days, but I think it was a brutal custom. They rarely lived.)
My chicken that year was the green one. I named him Shamrock. Miraculously, he not only lived, but thrived. He became a big white rooster with green-tipped feathers. He followed the neighborhood children around like the pet he was; but when he began roosting on the McClanahan's back porch, he had to be confined to a cage.
That summer, while I was away visiting my grandparents, Shamrock met an unspeakable fate. I do not think I have ever forgiven that.
Time passed, and the Easter focus changed to new spring clothes. I eagerly planned and looked forward to wearing new Easter outfits. One year a little girl in my Sunday school class had an ornate, white ruffled Easter dress, something similar to what Catholic girls wear for their first communion. My mother's taste ran more to a smart style. I was consumed with envy, although I can now look back and realize my green pleated dress was actually perfect for my age and the occasion. I did not give my mother enough credit. Do we ever?
Predictably, during the teen years, the focus was still on clothes. In those days the Kiwanis Club sponsored a community sunrise service at the Magnolia Bowl. My friends and I often went, but then we came home and rolled our hair again in pin curls to try to offset the harm done by the early morning mist. Vanity ruled.
Through the years, whether I was child or parent, we always lined the family up to take snapshots every Easter morning. We had no cell phone cameras then, but those Easter pictures, now faded, are still in several photo albums stored on bookshelves.
It took a long time for some of us to realize the true significance of Easter, if we ever really do. Even when we who are Christians celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus, it is difficult for us to get our minds around the promise of eternal life, although we devoutly yearn for it. It was an almost incredible thing that happened a little over two thousand years ago. But for those of us who claim it, thank God it did. It is our faith.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in and lives in Columbus.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.