Today is Easter Sunday, the Highest of holy days in the Christian faith. It is a time of deep, rich memories for me.
As a child, I loved the days leading up to Easter Sunday. We were out of school on Good Friday and it was a busy time at our house. Mama would be working at her Singer sewing machine, making dresses for her three daughters; she occasionally had time to make one for herself. We helped with cleaning the house and working with Daddy in the yard. He would cut the grass, probably for the first time of the season, and that fresh lawn fragrance always made me feel happy; it was a sign of summer coming and long days of fun outside. Daddy would be sure everything looked great because we would have company stopping by over the weekend, that included Mama’s brother J.C. and his family.
On Saturday mornings, we may take time away from the chores and ride ‘uptown’ to Sanford to look for Easter shoes– most likely patent leather. It was always a fun time on the Main Street with two dime stores. As I remember it, Mack’s was the one with the live Easter chicks that were dyed pink, purple, and green (that was allowed back in the day:( ). Lots of people were shopping looking for ready-made Sunday dresses. Sometimes I wanted to be able to pick out a dress off the rack and not have a homemade one–but that would not happen until years later.
On Saturday evenings, Daddy would sit in his rocker, leaned forward over a t.v. tray and polish his shoes. I can still recall how in the early evening The Lawrence Welk Show would be on, and later he would enjoy Gunsmoke. The smell of shoe polish will always take me back to Daddy–preparing his shoes for Sunday church.
We’d get up early on Sunday morning and go with others from our congregation to Buffalo Church cemetery for the sunrise service. In the cool of the early morning, often heavy with dew, we participated in remembering the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb that is central to our faith. To be in that quiet, peaceful surrounding of the hilly cemetery that surrounded a pond was a meaningful way to start the day. Later we’d go to church in our new Easter dresses and then travel to my Grandma Smith’s for lunch. The yard was filled with children, with twenty cousins produced from her eight children.
The highlight of that time at Grandma’s was the Easter egg hunt. The aunts would hide them in the front yard. My favorite place to find the colorful Brach’s candy eggs was in the pink and purple “thrift” flowers– that grew on the bank next to the road. Those flowers, which are actually creeping phlox, will always remind me of those Easter egg hunts. Years later, I would plant it in my raised garden bed, with it spilling out over the railroad ties, hoping to hide eggs there one day for my grandchildren.
It was sad when the day was over and it was time to go home from Grandma’s.
That’s how I remember Easters from childhood, but looking back now as an older adult, I know that not every Easter was sunny, with the idyllic brightness of my memory. There had to have been years when it rained, when that outside Sunrise service at the cemetery was canceled.
This year, we had cold, rainy days leading up to Easter. There was no warmth or cheer from the sun. It reminded me that before the glory of Easter in our Christian faith, there was darkness and death. There was suffering and a feeling of forsakenness. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. In his work, Rohr points out all that we encounter in the second half of life, how our faith must carry us deep to handle this necessary falling, and then the building of new life. As we grow older, we face more challenges with our own health issues and those of others, changing life circumstances from what we expected, losses of people either physically or relationally that bring us deep grief.
One of they hymns we sing at Easter, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (Lyrics by Isaac Watts) has a verse that poetically captures the depth of emotions:
“See from His head His hands His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown”
I think of how when we’re in deep sorrow, deep grief about someone else or ourselves, when light finally comes through, it can be experienced as love. And then when we feel deeply loved, joy flows out of our hearts and the healing begins. Never could that joy have been so light, so effusive had it not been for the depth of the darkness that came before. Without the cold rain we could not really feel the welcomed warmth of the sun when it returns.
This Easter, I close this day not feeling sad– like I did when I was a girl ending my day at Grandma Smith’s. Instead, I feel hopeful that tomorrow will be filled with the sun’s presence, even if temporarily hidden by clouds. My hope for you is that you feel this Easter kind of hope. It embraces sorrow knowing there is comforting love from our God, our Creator who came as a man, as Light that overturned darkness.
I leave you with my Easter picture with my grandsons. We didn’t have that thrift in the raised bed for me to hide eggs. Instead, they had there first hunt in the upstairs of my new house, my townhome that’s been a special blessing over the past months.
Happy Easter to you all,
Connie, Baker (almost 5), and Parks (almost 3)
4 thoughts on “Easter: Sorrow and Love”
Thanks Connie, I’m glad you had such a nice Easter. You were very blessed by that rural way of life you grew up in. I must admit, I’m a bit jealous of your childhood. It was a very different experience in the suburbs and the small little house and yard we had. I do remember the Easter dresses and the Easter bunny who always came to visit and once or twice, we even got some chicks. We raised them to a point and then had to find them homes in the country. Of course, as a kid, I loved those chicks.
Thanks so much for reading and for your comments about the good things I had in childhood.
Sometimes I wished I lived in the suburbs, in town where friends were close by. Sometimes the framework kept me from doing other things that kids my age enjoyed. So–it wasn’t all idyllic. I guess we all just did the best we knew how in the families and communities we landed in.
I’m glad you enjoyed those little chicks. I could never appreciate them because one of my main chores was taking care of the chickens!!
Best to you this Easter season, this time of new birth and an artist’s palette of colors. I bet you’re painting some beautiful works.
How could we ever want to grow up, in the 50’s and 60’s? It seems as though we all had the same traditions back in those days. I am glad that you used the Isaac Watts Hymn, “As I Survey the Wonderous Cross”. All the stanzas of that song are very poignant with each having a meaning and reference to many emotions. You could not have ended this post any better with the photo of you Grandsons and you. The boys represent the future, and you bring in the importance of passing on the traditions that were a part of their Uncle and Dad, That is a very beautiful picture. Love and Blessings to you. John,
Thanks so much for reading and your response.
Yes, looking back at those days of the 50’s and 60’s is bittersweet. Sometimes I think “if I could just go back for one day like it was then–with all my family, on the farm . . .” It was such a different time from now and what my grandkids know.
I agree that every verse of the Watts hymn is rich in theology and poetry— deep emotions.
I actually love that pic of me and the grandsons. For me to say I even like my picture is usually a stretch! Ha! But you’re right– it captures the past and the future.
Hope you have enjoyed your memories of childhood Easters and that you have a great week filled with Easter hope.
Best to you,
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