Every Tuesday in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.
The Easter egg hunt went off without a hitch. My four-year-old, who is notoriously bad at finding things (she, like her mother, can often be found daydreaming in a world of her own), raced around the yard scooping up eggs. Her little sister bounced from bright plastic egg to bright plastic egg; at each one, she paused, opened it, and exclaimed “oh wow!” Their ages and distinct personalities were evident in their searching styles. My elder girl was focused, experienced, and aware of the treasures lying in wait. My younger girl was emotional, exuberant, and luxuriating in the delight of each instance with no end goal in sight.
I’d warned my older daughter on our walk to the location (my parents’ house), “Watch out for Uncle Chris in the egg hunt. He might throw elbows.”
“Silly mommy,” she replied. “Grownups don’t do egg hunts.”
She called my bluff, knowing that her Uncle Chris is actually a kind and fun adult, and that all the grown folks would be spectating from the sidelines or helping out. Easter egg hunts are for the kids. It’s not the only child-centered appropriation of the Resurrection story, but, in comparison to Christmas, Easter never quite gets the commercial traction. It’s so much easier to explain and co-opt the Nativity—with its animals and stars and babe in the manger—than the season of Holy Week.
There’s the precursor of Lent, a time of repentance and deprivation that often begins by putting on ashes and the morbid reminder that “unto ashes” we shall return. Then there’s the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane—with the disciples’ fatigue, failure, and betrayals. There’s the gory crucifixion, the anxiety of waiting, and even near the ending of the story there’s the emptiness of the tomb. While the Nativity story emphasizes pregnancy—the fullness and meaningfulness of all things—the empty tomb marks the victory, yet it somehow leaves the disciples (then as now) a bit bewildered.
I once delivered a children’s devotion at church focusing on the empty tomb. I gathered the children around me, talked up a box, and finally offered its emptiness as the big reveal. The kids were confused, and I tried to explain how that feeling fits the story. I’m still not sure if that was brilliance or cruelty on my part, but it does epitomize the often-present feeling that God is absent or not here or not where we expect Him to be. We want to put God in a box, contain the divinity, open and gawk at the mystery at our leisure, but God follows a different agenda. He is not here.
He is risen.
On the way home from our Sunday festivities, my four-year-old asked if we could do an egg hunt today. It is Easter Monday, after all. Liturgically speaking, we’re in the season of Easter still, and that season is set apart from Lent or Advent or Christmas or Ordinary Time (which is itself a season). We’re supposed to mark these weeks as special, to commemorate them, and to let the Resurrection influence the rest of the year, too. We are called to be an Easter people. And whether our search for God is driven and focused or bouncy and spontaneous, it’s the seeking that matters. We might find a yard scattered with candy-filled eggs and we might find an empty tomb. Neither one can fill us or satisfy us like the Resurrected Christ. And He is risen indeed.