The young girl, maybe three years old, ran down the aisle at church.Â She was dressed in Easter fineryâ€”more than a bit of sparkle on a puffy pink dressâ€”and she was crying.Â The pastor had asked any willing children to come to the front of the church for an Easter story.Â The little girl had initially walked up to the pastor with confidence, but must have changed her mind once she realized it was a scary place up in the front.Â From that fact alone I could tell she had the makings of a fine future adult Lutheran.
As I smirked at her sprint to safety, I pondered my own childhood Easters.Â Usually the afternoon before the big event, my brothers and I would dye a couple dozen eggs.Â Weâ€™d make a spectacular mess on the table and on ourselves, which was part of the fun.Â I can still remember how cool it was when Paas added the clear crayons to their dye kits.Â Weâ€™d make all sorts of interesting designs on the eggsâ€¦devilâ€™s horns, zig-zags, faces, and write things like, â€œDenny smells.â€ (Denny was my brother.)Â You know, all the common icons of Easter holiness.Â And then, after applying the wax crayon designs, we’d soak the eggs until they were brilliant colors. Â Usually somewhere along the way the wire â€œdipperâ€ would bend too far as we loaded an egg into a cup of dye. Â There would then be a disastrous splash that probably started the whole tie-dye fad of my youth.
On Easter morning, my brothers and I sometimes had to hunt for real and plastic eggs hidden around the house, and sometimes we were just presented with a basket.Â I say â€œsometimesâ€ because one year–Iâ€™m guessing I was seven years old–I was punished for some unmemorable misdeed.Â As my brotherâ€™s oooâ€™d and ahhhâ€™d over their baskets filled with fun toys and assorted candy, I got nothing. Â Not one jellybean, hollow bunny, or empty, but colorful, basket.Â Nothing.
When I realized the Easter Bunny had only left baskets for my brothers, I wasnâ€™t sure what to do. I stood there, frozen, watching them enjoy their bounty.Â Mom observed me for a while and then said, â€œBad kids donâ€™t get Easter baskets.â€Â I sensed she wanted me to cry, so I didnâ€™t.Â But it did hurt.Â A lot.
Itâ€™s odd what memories sneak back in after so many years.Â Yesterday as I Â watched the frightened, gossamer-dressed, girl run down the church aisle to the safe arms of her parents, I hoped she would always know their unconditional love.