Monthly Archives: March 2016

But What Happened the Day After Easter?

Many of us anticipated an Easter filled with church celebrations, family and fun.

But what did the day after Easter bring?

Parents sometimes dread it. “Who ate the head off my chocolate bunny?” “He tasted my jelly beans, then spit ’em back in my basket!”

And those irresistible baby rabbits Mommy bought? They’ve already matured, married, and are multiplying hourly.

Happy Day after Easter!

But for some of Polish descent, this day rates a major celebration. The first spring I lived in South Bend, Indiana, I figured the newspaper headline was an April Fool’s joke: “City Celebrates Dyngus Day.” Turned out, “dyngus” was not a driver in an adjoining parking space who smacked my car opening his door, but a for-real holiday. Participants polka with a sausage in one hand, a beer in the other, simultaneously shaking hands with politicians. Lacking coordination, I opted for the ancient ritual of eating Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs, 50 percent off.

Munching these one Dyngus Day, I wondered what Jesus, Easter’s originator, did the day after.

Ancient roadside tomb in Israel, similar to that of Jesus

Ancient roadside tomb in Israel, similar to that of Jesus

Though some had accused Him of being a party animal, the Bible makes no mention of Jesus’ hobnobbing with polka-dancing politicians. We know He surprised women friends, including Mary Magdalene, on Easter morning. He also nearly sent His paranoid band of disciples into seizures, showing up despite dead-bolted doors.

But what did He do the next day, while they depleted their cell phone minutes spreading the news? While they rechecked their eyes at the optometrist’s and their minds at the psychiatrist’s to confirm what they saw?

After Passion Week’s agony and the Resurrection’s ecstasy, perhaps Jesus craved a little quiet. Maybe He sat anonymously in a garden, listening to birds’ hallelujah choruses, watching baby green leaves unfold tiny, tender fingers.

Or, since time and space didn’t appear an issue after the Resurrection, He might have visited the Sea of Galilee, 80 miles away. Perhaps He played on the beach with children He had healed.

I imagine Jesus visited his mother. The Bible does not place her at the tomb with Mary Magdalene or with the disciples when He appeared Easter evening. Did they tell Mary they saw Jesus? Perhaps, still incredulous, they wanted to spare her false hope. However, rumors no doubt reached her ears. They always do.

But nothing prepared Mary for that “Hi, Mom.” For Jesus’ strong arms around her again, for the still-wounded hands that dried her tears.

A skeptic interrupts my reverie. “Wait. How do you know what Jesus did? You weren’t there.”

No. But since I will live forever because of Jesus’ resurrection, someday, I plan to ask Him.

How do you think He spent that day?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: The Day After

Oh, my God, it’s the day after Easter, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are 50 per cent off. I’m celebrating all over again! But, Jesus, what did you do the day after Easter? Take a day off? You certainly deserved it. Did You surprise Your mom? OMG, what a hug that must have been!

 

 

Easter in March

EasterEggsMadEaster arrives in March this year. Does that just seem wrong to you? The Easter eggs we hide will have to thaw before the kids can eat them.

Still, faith can be found living in the oddest nooks and crannies of life—even in March.

  • Retailers demonstrate their faith. As if they are following some capitalistic Ten Commandments, they put snowsuits and boots on clearance. Defying the weather, they fill racks with golf shirts, tennis garb and bathing suits. They stuff shelves with Peeps, chocolate bunnies and pastel plastic eggs, believing spring will come. They stake their financial lives on it.
  • The young flaunt faith. At the first sign of temperatures above freezing, they escape Mom’s wear-your-coat-are-you-trying-to-get-pneumonia rant. On the playground, discarded jackets bloom like big flowers. The brave and brainless don shorts and flip-flops. But they’re already tasting joy. Their expectations rub off even on those of wintry disposition. Otherwise, why would we refer to tourney/blizzard time as “spring break”?
  • Track and baseball teams practice faith. If parents forced teams outside amid snow and sleet, the kids would call Child Protective Services, the Civil Liberties Union and ten lawyers apiece. Instead, they and their coaches believe they will have fun.
  • Ice cream vendors sell faith. With Easter approaching, small stand owners across the chilly Midwest unlock their doors and offer ice cream to the frostbitten masses. Near my house, Ivanhoe Drive In posted a sign reading “Fresh Strawberry Shortcake.” Carloads of shivering, faith-minded, faith-stomached customers have filled the parking lot.
  • Farmers and gardeners cultivate faith. Long before snows retreat, they nose through seed catalogues and sniff dead land like hounds, baying with gladness at the sight of tiny emerald spikes and buds. They believe with all their hearts, green thumbs and soon-to-be-aching backs that iron ground will nurture life.
  • Animals act out their faith, too. Gingerly walking an icy sidewalk, I encountered four robins huddled in a patch of snow. Did you guys make a wrong turn? If I had built-in flight available, I would retreat to a warmer perch. But despite chilly little claws and backsides, birds instinctively know they will build nests, hatch eggs, and teach their young to soar in sunny skies.

The whole earth reeks of resurrection. And we believe.JesusLivesPoster

Jesus, who created the world, set off this chain reaction of miniature resurrections. His own enormous Resurrection turned March into Easter and reduced cemeteries to odd hotels, temporary stops until we reach where we’re really going.

Why not believe in Him, too?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Passion

Oh, my God, I’m passionate about my family. About persuading the people who live inside my head to help me write books. About chocolate and basketball and correct apostrophe usage. Most of all, I’m passionate about You, Jesus. But OMG, no passion of mine can begin to match Your Passion for me.

Dandelion Treasure?

dandelionAs I walk past our nearby elementary school, I search for the first fuzzy yellow dandelions. Although I want them out of my yard, deep in my grown-up heart, I still like them.

As a six-year-old, I heard God sprinkled dandelions on lawns like manna. Sometimes He turned them to gold during the night. The financial possibilities made it worth a try.

The gold coin story did not pan out, but I still welcomed dandelions. Softer than my baby brother’s hair, they dotted the gray-brown Indiana landscape, reminding me better than any catechism that God loves color. I showered my mother with bouquets. She never turned them down.

One evening Mama surprised my siblings and me. We would pick dandelions for supper! I did not realize they were good to eat. Or that our old refrigerator was empty. Mama acted as if we were going on a picnic.

“These look good.” She bent and nipped off leaves.

Grown-ups rarely made sense. “Aren’t we going to eat the flowers?”

“No. Some people use them to make wine, but we’re eating just the greens.”

“Can’t we make wine?”

Mama’s eyebrows rose. “Probably not a good idea.”

My father’s congregation might not take kindly to a bootleg wine-making operation in the church basement.

My seven-year-old brother grabbed the big greens first.

“Thank you.” Mama shook dirt from our offerings. “But little ones are best.”

Ha! My spindly greens topped his!

I asked Mama, “What do cooked dandelions taste like?”

“Spinach.”

I’d never eaten spinach. But on TV, Popeye’s cans of spinach helped him clobber the bad guys!

Maybe dandelions possessed the same magic. I insisted on a big bowl for supper. Muscles would pop out on my skinny arms. I would teach Kevin, the mouthy kid across the alley, some manners!

I took my first bite.

Maybe we should have made wine.

Though I gulped several spoonfuls, I didn’t hear Popeye’s happy music. My arms still looked like plucked chicken wings. Maybe if the dandelions had come from a can instead of the churchyard, the spell might have worked.

Decades later, dandelion greens, no longer a dubious alternative to going hungry, are chopped, pickled and curried in hundreds of international recipes.

I take home the fresh, green pile I have gathered. When I find the right recipe, I will dine on four-star fare for lunch. My personal skeptic insists I will be eating weeds at my kitchen table stacked high with bills. Ignoring her, I search the Internet for recipes.

Who knows? Chopped in my repent-after-the-holidays salad, dandelions might make me as skinny as Olive Oyl.

Fat chance.

When the first dandelion of the year pops up in your yard, what childhood memory pops into your mind? And do you have a favorite dandelion recipe?

OMG, It’s Monday Prayer: Springing Forward

Oh, my God, even the grumpy sun doesn’t like Daylight Saving Time in March. He didn’t want to rise and shine this morning, and neither did I. Now the day seems set on “fast forward” as I chase the hours. Maybe humans shouldn’t try to micromanage the universe. OMG, are You laughing?

March Magic

BasketballGoalSnowWinter-weary people wonder why God did not ban March a long time ago. March lasts for years in the Midwest.

Still, we survive, even thrive. Why?

Two words: tourney time.

Outsiders term our annual basketball obsession “March Madness.” We call it “March Magic.”

More than five decades ago, I experienced my first taste of it in a rural elementary gymnasium packed to the rafters. The fans amazed me more than the skinny eighth-grade team. Upstanding grown-ups shrieked from wooden bleachers like gangs of outraged crows. Teachers popped up and down, much more fun at games than in the classroom! At half-time, I exchanged my nickel for wondrous Beech-Nut Fruit Stripe gum. I chewed all five flavors at once.

Nothing, however, compared with the games’ true marvel: the referees. A bleat of their whistles, and players and fans stopped in their tracks. Even our school principal, whom I believed was a first cousin of God, stood at attention.

One referee power outshone them all: with upraised fingers, these omnipotent beings could change the scoreboard.

Though I tried to “score” points for my team, the Taylorsville Bears, holding up two fingers, I did not possess the magic.

Gradually, my awe of the game outgrew my wonder at the referees. Their movements paled compared to the raw poetry of farm kids running, guarding, shooting a ball into a basket with awkward grace.

One year, when county tourney time arrived, the Taylorsville Bears were the team to beat.

In the early afternoon, Taylorsville defeated Wayne. Our evil arch-rivals, Rock Creek, pounded on Petersville. Anyone who has experienced small-town basketball can write the script that evening: the hats-off, hands-over-hearts moment of thin civility during the national anthem. The Coliseum roar of a crowd segregated by school colors. The wild choreography of young bodies driving, diving, shooting the basketball. The blast of songs by a Bobble-headed band. The final screams of winners smothered by popcorn confetti as fans stormed the court.

Of course, we won. Do you think I’d write this if Rock Creek had beat us?

March Magic persists, yet consolidation and categorization have changed sports scenery.  The sacred barn-like 1920s gymnasium where I watched my first tourney game disappeared years ago. Fruit Stripe gum can be ordered on the Internet — for more than a nickel.

While I still love basketball, I don’t get carried away. When March Magic tugs at me, I wouldn’t think of trying to up my team’s score by raising two fingers.

Now I raise three.

Have you ever lived a “Hoosiers” movie moment?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: March Madness

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Oh, my God, during March Madness, I don a helmet. With ear plugs. You made my husband, whose signature is sanity, who keeps brown socks in one drawer and black in another. Yet he succumbs to basketball psychosis. OMG, bring healing. But please, not until April 6. (Go, Hoosiers!)

Changing Decades Again?

A few years ago, I suffered the trauma of changing decades … again.

My husband and I first experienced this phenomenon on my twentieth birthday. I told my then-boyfriend, “Someday, I might even turn 30.”

He looked deep into my eyes. “Let’s grow old together.”

I reveled in our romantic moment—until he, who would not change decades for another six months, said, “Of course, you’ll always be older than me.”

He almost didn’t make it past his teens.

Facing this recent age shift, however, proved harder than facing 20, even if “60 is the new 40.” Yet, who am I to buck mathematical progress? Not only would I like those “60 is the new 40” folks to track my age, I wish they would check my weight. And work for the IRS.

I went further, embracing “60 is the new 30.” Changing decades this last time reminded me of pregnancy. The same gradual belly expansion, losing sight of feet. Wearing the same two waistless outfits, despite a full closet.

Visiting a new restauraSRPhillipsPreBeth0001nt, I didn’t wonder, “Is the food good?” or “Are prices reasonable?” Instead, I asked, “Where are the restrooms?” and “What’s your antacid du jour?”

Still, changing decades again proved more positive than I anticipated.

Years ago, I read in a women’s magazine about an hour make-up regimen for joggers. Seriously.

Today, no one expects me to wear three kinds of lip gloss when I exercise. And run? Spectators applaud if I walk, displaying only mild cardiac symptoms.

Turning 60 also provided peace and quiet. Phone surveyors demanding input from the 35-to-59-year-old crowd suddenly lost interest in my views on Daylight Savings Time, potholes, sock replacement and the Theory of Relativity. I miss sharing my opinions. But what are relatives for?

Travel presents positives, too. When I was younger, flight attendants glared while I heaved my fat carry-on into a compartment. Now — especially if I clutch my back — they heave it for me and later extract it like a wisdom tooth.

That courtesy can’t compare, though, with my first-ever school lunch with my granddaughter. We ate in a claustrophobic room vibrating with jet-engine-decibel noise. Yet that dining experience rated five stars.

PhillipsSRColts15Not that I turned down a grown-up dinner out to celebrate my 60th with my spouse. Not only has he increased in wisdom, but I’ve mellowed, too. Maturity is our byword now. …

Na-na-na-boo-boo! I received the senior discount, and he didn’t.

 

How do you celebrate changing decades? Cruises? Trips to Paris? Extra prune juice?