O my God, our little crabapple was the Easter equivalent of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. But You breathed Your resurrection into it — what a difference! And OMG, what a difference You can make in us!
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.
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?
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.
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?