My Easter memories go back as far as my Christmas memories.
Mom and Dad always had Easter baskets out for us, and there was always a hunt for eggs and candy. Mom would help us color the eggs. Being an artist, she would find a way for us to add a personal touch of expression, and we would know the eggs we were finding came from our kitchen. Dad had as much fun hiding the eggs and candy as we had in hunting for them. He would wander around saying things like, "The Easter Bunny was definitely over here," and "I think I smell more chocolate eggs around here."
When we got older, he still liked to hide candy for us to find, but he would make it more challenging. He loved it if the weather was nice enough to go outside. He would put some of the candy in prickly weeds or among the thorny roses. One year we wondered how he got the chocolate eggs up on the roof. I think he wanted to see how creative we would be in order to reach the candy. He seemed to have more fun every year. We provided more entertainment for him than color TV.
There was always an Easter program at church, and sometimes another program that night. I knew the words to the traditional Easter hymns before I knew all the Christmas Hymns, and I loved singing them.
We would always talk about Christ, and the events of the last week of Christ's life. I have an early memory of watching a Hollywood movie about the life of Christ, and it all culminated in His crucifixion. I had already felt the presence of God in my life, and I didn't like this image of someone defeated by mean people. I was heartbroken and inconsolable. Dad held me on his lap, and told me how there was so much more, that the love of Christ was stronger than death, and sadness, and loss. He said we can find joy at Easter time by concentrating on the Atonement and Resurrection. I liked the idea of knowing someone who was stronger than death.
A few years later Dad showed me how there was another way of saying Atonement. At-One-Ment was what Christ did for us in the garden. He felt our sorrows, suffering, pain, our joy, confusion, doubt, fear. By loving us completely, He became one with us. He became us. The presence of God was clearer to me. When I went through some years of doubting myself and everything else, it was easy to doubt that anyone, even a loving God could love me. I still liked Easter - the candy hunts, the family gathering, the story, the music all brought a familiar comfort, but a temporary one.
I have since learned that choosing to turn away from love, especially God's love, is not a joyful life. I now choose a joyful life. Easter is again a celebration of rebirth, forgiveness and repentance, connection, gathering, joy and the power of love over death. I have learned to celebrate it all year.
I will hide candy for anyone who will hunt for it. I loved the Easter Programs I saw last week and last night, and sang in this morning. I love the smell of my carrot cake and the lamb roast we will share with another family today. I love, most of all, offering the greeting Dad taught me years ago - He is risen. And receiving the response...
He is risen indeed.