You know how children seem to understand things on a level that we, as adults, don’t get? Their innocence simply removes all levels of analysis and allows in the most basic understanding of difficult subjects. This just happened last night as I talked to Diva (currently 3) about Easter and what it meant for us as a family. I’ve always fought the idea of an Easter Bunny — annoyed that we would anthropomorphise a mammal that hops and DOESN’T lay eggs simply for the sake of giving our kids gifts. But then, I had my Easter epiphany.
Last night, as Diva was ready to go to sleep, she asked me to talk about Easter. Seeing this as an opportunity to discuss the true reason for our holiday, I told her that I would talk about Easter and Jesus first, and then we’d discuss what was going to happen on Easter Sunday with our celebrations, etc.
So, I started like this:
As you know, Jesus was put on a cross with some nails. It hurt a lot. He was sad, and there were two other men up there on different crosses. They were bad men. One of them stayed mad, but the other asked Jesus, “Can I go to Heaven with you?” and Jesus said, “Definitely! Let’s go.” So, they died.
Everyone was so sad. God was so sad that the sky went dark and the sun went away. Remember, we talked about how dark the sky was when Jesus died? You painted a picture with the sun and the crosses and hill?
So, everything went dark. And people were crying. And it was so very sad.
The next day, things were just quiet. No one knew what to do because Jesus was gone. They were so very upset to have lost him.
But the next day, Easter morning, his mommy and her friend went to check on him and put flowers on his grave. And guess what? He was gone! Because he was alive! God made him alive, and that’s why we celebrate on Easter!
In fact, when we go to church on Easter, we’re going to wear clothes that are a little nicer because we’re going to the best and biggest party ever! We’re going to sing, “Alleluia!” In fact, Mommy is going to sing, “Jesus Christ is risen today, A-le-lu-ia!” with the choir!
Then, we’re going to Grammy and Pa’s, and we’re going to have a party! With cake and cookies and lunch and candy! We might even have an Easter egg hunt because it’s such a big celebration! It’s the best day ever because Jesus is alive and he’s the best superhero we’ve all ever known! He saved us, and he’s letting us go to Heaven with him just like the man on the cross. He’s saved us! Isn’t that awesome?
I also had the conversation with our almost-8 year old who was able to get a bit more excited with me. He knew the story and could fill in the blanks a bit. In his ever-logical brain, he realized that Easter occurs in the spring. And spring is when everything grows. In the fall, plants and trees begin to die off only to regrow and sprout anew in the spring…just like Jesus dying and coming back.
When he had that moment of clarity, it sort of released an a-ha for me. Granted, I know that Easter occurs when it does due to the moon cycle and the pagan ritual celebration of the goddess of spring, Eastra. There are others who believe that the season of Easter so occurs because of the ancient story of Inanna (one of my favorites — if you don’t know it, read it!). So it’s not far fetched to recognize that the time when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ would fall at a similar time on the calendar.
My problem has actually been with the over-excitement surrounding the bunny and the eggs and the commercialization of the Holiest of seasons.
As my kids have gotten older and more people around them ask if the Easter bunny was good to them, I’ve had to let down my religious guard, if you will. In doing so, I’ve actually had Easter egg hunts in my own home (gasp!) and purchased some Easter basket-esque items. It has always felt weird. Until now.
Now, I’m sitting here able to consider that maybe we can envision this date not only as the Holiest of celebrations but one that, as my pastor put it in church this morning, should cause us all to be a little bit delirious. Considering the miracle that is the resurrection, we should all be screaming and dancing and celebrating. And if it takes some random candy-stuffed eggs and frosted cookies to achieve that, then so be it.
He is not here. He is risen! Matthew 28:6