Today is Easter Sunday, and I tried very hard to come up with an Easter recollection to complement my deep reservoir of Thanksgiving memories which flow from me like rivers to oceans or even my Christmas memories which aren’t quite up to Thanksgiving levels but still trickle in through little streams of consciousness. The best I had was clothes…and music.
I can visualize frilly pink Easter dresses, white lacy Easter bonnets, snug-fitting white Easter gloves, shiny white Easter shoes and a matching white Bible to carry to church. I had won the white Bible the summer before during Vacation Bible School as a reward for memorizing the most scripture verses in my class. My name was engraved in gold letters which stood out nicely against the white leather Bible.
The dress was home-made by my paternal grandmother Ma who tortured me with fittings several times before the actual final inspection was made and the dress approved to her satisfaction. She and my mother coordinated the remainder of the ensemble with a great deal of whispering behind my back because they wanted to avoid the exasperated facial expressions I made whenever they brought up the subject of the Easter “outfit.” Horrors – please don’t talk about that.
The Easter outfit was like a Halloween costume to me. I might as well have been dressed in a white cowboy hat wearing a black Lone Ranger mask sitting astride my stick-horse yelling Hi, ho, Silver, Away periodically during the congregational singing at our Southern Baptist church. Instead, I was sitting demurely between my grandmother and granddaddy singing Up from the Grave He Arose. As a matter of fact, I definitely would have preferred The Lone Ranger look over the Easter outfit.
But I had to wear the clothes to hear the music, and I loved the music even then. The old rugged cross was exchanged for a crown, because he lived I could live forever, just as I was without one plea I came because his blood was shed for me, I lifted up my heart to sing hosanna, hosanna to the king because of the amazing grace that found me when I was blind and could not see. The hymns had 18th. century harmony which I knew nothing about at the time I learned to sing them, but that lack of composition understanding didn’t interfere with my love of the experience.
Even the sermon on Easter Sunday morning was hopeful – once you got over the nasty business of the crucifixion – the minister was so happy about the resurrection. Really, he seemed to me to be more joyful at Easter than he was at Christmas when the tidings of great joy were proclaimed by the angels.
My first Easter Sunday was the day I was born on April 21, 1946, which makes this one my 71st. Unbelievable. Where does time really go. I miss my family and the singing at the little church today. I don’t miss the Easter outfit.
Although it isn’t my birthday, I am going to make an Easter wish. My wish for all of us today in the midst of a world that is fraught with monumental uncertainties is that we become ministers of happiness founded on our own good health, good relationships, erasing inequalities where we can, creating trust in our communities and standing against injustice whenever we witness it. One by one, as the saying goes.
Resurrect hope today.