This morning — before half of the house’s occupants were awake but after my first cup of coffee — I hid twenty brightly colored Easter eggs for Cee’s two girls, Eee and Kay, to find. The backyard here at Cee’s house, on this lovely block in Hyde Park, is wide and deep and chock full of great hiding spots – which may explain why now, two hours after the conclusion of The Great Easter Egg Hunt of 2013, one of the original twenty eggs is still unaccounted for. I’m guessing it will make its presence known in a few weeks, when the summer sun is high in the Austin sky.
When I was growing up, church wasn’t a big part of my life. Most Sunday mornings, Easter or otherwise, I sat watching the clock, waiting for my neighborhood friends to return home from various denominational services followed often by CCD or Sunday school, my siblings and I pacing the floors and bemoaning the fact that Saturday cartoons were just that. My parents weren’t big on organized religion and its attendant rituals and events, although they did kindly offer to take me to any church of my choosing if I ever felt a yen for some of that ritual, the desire to attend those events. When my mom’s close friend Max dug deep into his pockets and his fledgling congregation’s reserves of faith and love to build his own church – the place of worship where my sister and brother-in-law exchanged vows a little over twenty-three years ago — I can remember pitching in to help as the beams were raised, the square patches of grass were planted, and the beautiful wooden pews were installed and oiled by hand until they shone. I wasn’t sure if I believed in God or anything really, but I wanted to be a part of that building, that grass, that love. Maybe my parents felt the same way because we attended Max’s church intermittently for a while. I don’t remember much about the sermons, even though I remember being in awe of Reverend Max (so different – inexplicably taller, more imposing – than every day Uncle Max), but I can hear clearly the sound of my dad’s baritone rising into the air as he stood next to me with his open hymnal. He may have had a scientist’s skepticism when it came to matters of faith, but my father had a singing voice that did God proud, that’s for sure.
I also have a memory from when I was quite young of sunrise Easter services on the shore of the pond that sits across from the mall and just to the east of the hospital in my hometown. I can’t swear that I wore a bonnet the few times that we attended, but I can feel the ghost of the weight of one on my head when I recall those mornings, along with the bitter chill in the air and the sweet unfolding of warmth and light that bathed my bare skin as the sun rose into the sky. I stood next to that same pond with my brother many years later, as we took in fresh air and once again welcomed the sun’s touch while on a short break from the oppressive industrial air conditioning (why are hospitals always so cold?) and the crushing sadness of our father’s room in the ICU upstairs. I asked Keith if he remembered those Easter services by the duck pond (he did) as we took a lap and then another around the perimeter. All the while, step after step, I was thinking, “Let’s stay down here, let’s stay where it’s warm.” And so now those two memories are forever connected in the memory chamber of my mind: that pond, those long ago Easter Sundays, the afternoon of the day before the day of my father’s death, and the healing salve of the sun’s warmth on my naked arms.
These days, I think occasionally about going to church, about finding a place here in Austin to retreat to on those Sunday mornings when I’m feeling the pull to commune with that something bigger than me I call God. I haven’t taken any real steps towards it just yet, it’s still a thinking thing and not quite a doing thing. In the meantime, I’m finding my recent re-discovery of poetry and my Poetry & Motion pact with John to memorize verses to be a satisfying communion all its own. With that in mind, here’s what I really wanted to share with you today, on this Easter Sunday (before I got side tracked with all of these other musings). Enjoy.
i thank You God for most this amazing… by e.e. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
(Egg photo — and eggs — courtesy of Cee. All rights reserved. Seriously, how cute is that ninja egg?)