All about us, the earth is waking up from the long sleep of winter. The maple trees are blooming; their twigs red-tipped and softly glowing from a distance. There is a greenish haze around the weeping willow tree, and the buds are fat and swollen on the lilac and forsythia bushes. Daffodils and hyacinths defy the still cold air, blooming bravely from flower beds and lawns.
Everywhere there is evidence of new life. Spring calves run with abandon in the pasture, and then return to their mothers to nurse and then run again. One of our little banty hens was crouched on the hillside beside the chicken house, and when Criss approached her, she ruffled her feathers and flew at him in a fury.
She was sitting on four little balls of fluff that had been hatched out a few days ago. She had stolen her nest out and faithfully sat on these eggs, through cold and rain, until her efforts were rewarded with four baby chicks.
I am glad that Easter, with its message of hope and life, comes with the return of spring upon the earth. It is not the date that is so important, but the fact Christ was crucified, laid in the tomb, and arose triumphant over sin and death. Every day my heart rejoices in a risen Savior. When the Day Star arose in my heart, Christ's resurrection became a living reality that I am thankful for every day of my life.
All creation is praising God. "Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps. Fire and hail, snow and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling His word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl; Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men and maidens; old men and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name is excellent; His glory is above the earth and the heaven." (Psalms 148: 7-13.)
Easter was special when I was a youngster growing up at home. I can remember how we kids used to debate which was the best—Easter, Christmas or Father's Day. (Father's Day meant our annual family reunion where we spent the day frolicking and feasting with hordes of cousins and kinfolk.)
Easter signaled the ending of winter, and the advent of warm weather and freedom outdoors. We knew that it would not be very long until we could shed the shackles of winter (mainly our shoes!) and revel in the ender grass of springtime.
To me then, Easter meant frilly, new dresses made of organdy or dotted swiss material. Handmade by Mom with lots of ruffles and lace, and with wide sashes tied in huge bows behind. After a steady diet of cotton feedsack dresses and skirts, we felt like fairy princesses let out of our towers.
We always got new white anklets and black patent leather sandals with a strap across the top. The boys got new cowboy shirts and jeans, complete with wide brimmed cowboy hats—Daddy's idea of sartorial elegance for the male gender.
Easter morning started out early for us children, but even earlier for Daddy. He would get out of a nice warm bed at the crack of dawn to hide two or three dozen brightly colored eggs in the yard before we woke up. A lot of the time it was cold and frosty, and our fingers would freeze as we darted from a clump of grass to a nest of eggs hidden at the base of the rose bushes.
It didn't dampen our enthusiasm though, as we shivered and searched for the very last egg. Daddy would watch us and grin, throwing out broad hints to the smaller children who weren't finding as many. I think now of what a sacrifice it was for Daddy to brave the cold morning to provide us with the thrill of hunting eggs, although I feel sure that he enjoyed it as much as we did.
As we grew older, Daddy's example led us to find a much deeper meaning to Easter. It is all about life, and how Christ arose to give life everlasting. Christ's death and resurrection means nothing to those who have not truly repented and received Him into their hearts. But to those who follow Him, He is Truth, and Hope, and Life.
No, Easter is not colored eggs, new clothes, and baskets of goodies. But it is a risen Savior, offering hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and life to the dead.