Before reading this post that might look like we had things all put together this Easter season be sure to check out the reality of it all in the post I put up back here. This post is just to document all the beautiful parts of our Easter season. There were plenty of ugly parts too, but I talked about them already, so….moving on.
We really did spend a whole month learning about and thinking about and talking about Jesus ALL THE TIME. It made me realize that the rest of the year needs to have more of that in it. I often thought about this scripture:
I want my children to know where to look. And for that to really be in their bones we need to talk, rejoice in, preach, write, act with Christ at the center.
During the Easter season we tried to replace our regular (well semi-regular) scripture study with an Easter devotional. We loosely followed the plan in this doc. Like I said before, these devotionals weren’t always perfect, but I LOVED the times where the spirit filled the room and the kids sat wide eyed as I told them stories of Jesus. Peter and Emmeline especially loved watching the LDS bible video reenactments of the scripture stories that we read. I loved looking into their eyes as they absorbed this information. It was as if they were learning something that they already knew, they were like little sponges, so eager to know Jesus.
The devotionals got a little more involved once we hit holy week. We acted out Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Sunday. I love doing this little play with the kids. Making the palm branches, saying the word Ass, ridding on daddy donkey….always thrilling.
I raged at my kids on Monday to commemorate Christ driving out the money changers….that wasn’t really the plan, but it gave us all a different angle to think about this part of the Easter story and how we need to cleanse our own temple.
On Tuesday we talked about the Parables Christ taught during his last week. On Wednesday Hazel lead a game of Parable Charades and we went on our Easter walk (which, again, didn’t go as planned, but still connected us to the Easter story). We did find some powerful symbols in nature as we walked and felt the warm sunshine.
On Thursday we had our Passover dinner. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a Seder. One day I hope we’ll be invited to a real Jewish Seder. I’m sure our attempts would be laughable by any Jewish person. But we did put together a Seder plate. Peter spent a full hour cutting up apples into small bits to make our "Charoset” – a little compote of apples, honey and nuts to symbolize the sweetness of deliverance. We tried to roast an egg in the toaster oven….next time I should look up how to roast an egg, because my ad hock method didn’t really work so well. The exploding egg was quite thrilling and funny though. We did pull out the plates I bought in Jerusalem during my study abroad there. We did hide pieces of unleavened bread for the children to find. We set a place for Elijah. We cleaned the house (a little) before the meal. We washed our hands (but no time for feet). We ate lamb and matzo and drank a lot of grape juice. Our friend Stacy joined us and told the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage. We talked about the symbolic foods. And we teared up while taking big bites of horseradish. There was fighting and fussing about the food of course. But I loved our dining room all filled up with candle light. I loved thinking about Moses and the way God cared for His people. And I loved helping the kids make a connection in there, to help them think about what Passover means in a Christian context. To think about Christ’s celebration of Passover, the last supper. To draw those powerful parallels of deliverance. During Easter season Stacey also came over to make these adorable wet felted Easter eggs with the kids. She has been crafting with Hazel once a week for the past few months and this time the other kids got to get in on the action. It was so great having someone truly crafty come into my home and help my kids experience that kind of joy. I enjoy crafts, but don’t have the talent for them really, or the patience it takes to do them with children! Aren’t they so cute? We also, at Hazel’s insistence, made Easter sugar cookies. I HATE making sugar cookies with my kids. It’s just such a mess, all that frosting and sprinkles and food dye! But I sucked it up and tried not to let them detect my distain. They LOVED it. On Good Friday the kids had a half day. I scrambled while they were at school to set up what I wanted to be the most solemn part of our Easter celebrations. I tried to recreate a stations of the cross type activity for them where we walked through the things that Christ did after the Last Supper and before the Resurrection. As I was setting it all up I was so worried that they were going to derail it all. Something told me that bribing them was the trick. So, when they got home I told them if we could make it through this long, pretty solemn and serious activity together we could all ride our bikes to Zinga. And, it worked! They listened and cooperated and it really was quite moving I think for all of us. At each station we read the scriptures explain what happened and sometimes we had little activities to go along with it. We tore some fabric (cloth rent), we cast lots, we washed our hands, we twisted thorns into a crown, we carried a heavy beam around the back yard, we nailed in a nail, we tasted vinegar, we blew out a candle. We said a prayer and sang a song and felt the spirit.
And then we biked to Zinga. After Zinga we made it all the way to the end of the bike trail. The plan is to extend this trail from our town all the way to the ocean. I’m hoping that really happens. It was so great to bike with all four kids on their own bikes. I made Jeff dye Easter Eggs with the kids on Saturday while I took a break. That was pretty glorious. Coming home to all those dyed eggs. On Saturday we had our annual cemetery Easter egg hunt. It was cold with patches of snow still spotting the ground. But the kids were delighted to be outside in the sunshine with candy. At one point Peter, mid-hunt, bursting with excitement beckoned me over to see something. When I got close enough he pointed out to me some chintzy fake flowers “planted” at the base of one of the headstones. “Mom! A sign of spring!” I love that kid. On Sunday morning I convinced my adventurous girls to get up before dawn to come with me to watch the Sunrise. This was my very favorite part of the whole Easter season.
We drove all bleary eyed and foggy up to the highest point in our town and got out in the light of the moon to watch the world come alive again. It was COLD and we had to run around and do jumping jacks to keep warm. At one point as we shivered and waited Hazel said, “Mom, what if the sun just didn’t come up?” We had been waiting a while and it did sort of feel like the sun could just stay down forever, leaving us shivering and waiting. It struck me anew, the beauty of Easter and spring time and new life and resurrection. The hope and joy that comes with spring, with the sunrise each day and with Christ.
We shivered and sang and read the account of those other three ladies, up before dawn who saw the Son rise.
It was a powerful moment for me and the girls. One I think we’ll never forget, and one that we want to repeat each year.
The morning also reminded me of an Easter morning exactly 20 years ago when I was able to go to a Sunrise service at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. The same big nearly full moon was setting over that golden city as we left the BYU Jerusalem Center to walk to the Tomb. The air was cold but full of hope. That would be a day I’d relive if I could choose one. That, and the days my children were born.
I guess for centuries it has been a tradition to watch the Sunrise on Easter. I didn’t really realize this, but when we got home and warmed up we started reading through a few Easter books we got from the library and found that people all over the world get up to great the Easter sun.
I loved reading this book by Lillie Patterson. It was full of adorable vintage drawings and lots of really great info about Easter throughout the centuries. It explained the origins of all kinds of Easter traditions. It made me wish I had found/read it sooner. I ordered a used copy off Amazon for next year.
And to top it all off we came home to some simple Easter baskets. I had this grand idea to make everything in the Baskets symbolic of real, deeper things… bread for the bread of life, water bottles for living water, a few church activities, but it was pretty half baked. There’s always next year. We didn’t make a big deal over the Bunny. I think my younger two assumed that’s where the baskets came from, but we didn’t really say anything. The only Easter Bunny worth it’s weight in my book is that Country Bunny with her golden shoes.
There you have it. Our Easter 2015. It’s a work in progress, honing all these traditions, pulling these holidays off in a meaningful way. It’s not all peachy, but, my new mantra: The Whole Glistens.