Easter in our house is different, now.
When our children were little, the Easter Bunny would show up in the wee hours (usually after the Easter Vigil with a glass of wine in hand) and leave a trail of jelly beans for each child from the top of the stairs down to the living room coffee table where baskets filled with malted milk “robins eggs”, stuffed animals, bubbles, foil wrapped eggs and chocolate bunnies (the solid ones) were waiting- one basket for each child. The children would wake, early, and follow the sugar bomb trail down to find their prizes, eating all the way. When the baskets had been pillaged, and the carpet was littered with that slippery green plastic grass and foil wrappers, then it was time for the egg hunt (usually contained in the downstairs of the house) and then a fast breakfast of hot cross buns before dressing everyone in scratchy new Easter clothes and heading to church. We sang “Welcome Happy Morning” and “the Strife is O’er” and “The Green Blade Riseth” and, everyone’s favorite: ” Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today! Alleluia!” (There was one year, though, when a fist fight broke out in the back pew between my two eldest over a smuggled chocolate egg, and I dragged them out by the wrists; I was crying, because we didn’t get to stay for the last hymn- my favorite! I remember putting the kids in the car and standing in the parking lot, outside of the car, listening through my tears to the congregation singing, “Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia! Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!…”). Ah, parenting.
Yeah, it’s different now. The children are grown and scattered. This year I didn’t even have a chance to put together Easter baskets to mail because… Corona.
It is an interior experience.
I woke this morning, as I always do on Easter, before the dawn. The cat knew, it seems, that I needed to be up, and so he crawled onto my chest and put a large, soft paw on my (closed) eyes, as if saying, “Ahem. It’s Easter. Get up.” The soft paw of a cat with its claws retracted, is a curious thing. It is so sweet… and you know, that at any moment, the cat could choose to turn that loving gesture into a big scratch. And so, I obeyed Wobbles and got up. But I would have anyway- it is my joy at dawn on Easter to listen to the birds singing the earth awake on this glorious day.
And so I padded downstairs, pressed “brew” on the coffee pot and went outside. The birds were singing their alleluias. The sky was a joyous orange, a prelude to the rising sun (son), and I was glad (H. Parry) – (Apologies for bringing the Queen into this, but this recording of “I was Glad” from her Jubilee is really awesome.)
It is a funny feeling- to have one’s heart so full- and to look around and see that nothing “outside” has changed: the ice cream bowls from last night sit in the sink, the dawn reveals windows that really need their spring cleaning, I’m wearing grey sweatpants with the name of my favorite campground emblazoned down the leg- no petticoat or easter bonnet, here.
It took a while for the Easter miracle to become clear. The women found an empty tomb; Mary didn’t recognize Jesus at first, she thought him to be the gardener; even the fellows on the road to Emmaus walked a few miles with Jesus and didn’t get it, until much later, at dinner. I get it. I feel the change in my heart today. And, on this Corona Easter, it is a bittersweet blessing to be transformed… and to have but my cats and sleeping husband to share it with.
But I have you, dear readers.
And so: Happy Easter! Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed!
We’ll Zoom later with our children and grandchildren. There won’t be jelly beans, but there will be joy.