Easter has changed for us.
No more egg hunts. We didn’t go to church.
The three of us went to our wonderful French restaurant, Et Voilà, for a late brunch. They have done a great job taking a small parking lot in the back to give off the mood of an outdoor French café. COVID you understand. Bloody Mary for me, fu fu drinks for Maureen and Sarah, coffee. Short rib hash for Sarah, Lamb hash for Maureen. Being less capable in French than the two of them, i ordered quiche lorraine because there is no way i would properly pronounce “croque madame.”
Wonderful. Just flat wonderful.
En route, we passed several churches holding services outside. You know, that COVID thing. It engendered my recall of past Easters back home.
For Sarah, i recalled the community joint churches Sunrise Service, created by the Kiwanis Club as George Harding admonished me to get right when i omitted that detail from a Lebanon Democrat column. 7:00 a.m. Sarah wondered why it wasn’t at sunrise. i opined they probably couldn’t get all the church goers up for sunrise. Castle Heights. McFadden Auditorium. The Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Church of Christ ministers were arrayed on the steps behind the speaker’s platform. That’s the way i remember it, but hey, it was 1950. i was six years old.
And this six-year old was dressed to the nines. He had on a white suit with shorts and a white shirt with an open-neck collar. His hair was slicked and parted perfectly. His four-year old sister Martha was in his father’s lap. His year-old brother Joe was in his mother’s arms. The metal folding chairs were white.
He remembers that all of the preachers participated in the service. Ergo, it was a long service. He remembers they sang those high falutin’ hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” not the gospels he already had come to love. But most of all, he remembers how cold those seats were on his legs not covered by the shorts. It was almost painful. But it was a beautiful service in the cold sun of Easter morning.
After we returned home this morning, i thought about that incredible man, the Son of God, and how we have manipulated his messages of peace and good will toward men into many other things that ignore our relationships with other humans.
i said a prayer. Just me. Just mine. No holier than thou stuff. No claim to being right. Just praying for what i think Easter is all about. Really.
But then, i went back to work. Editing. A pain. Sometimes scary. Sometimes too revealing of me since it’s a memoir. Over six hours all told today.
But i stopped, worked on some menial tasks. i like menial tasks. Sometimes when i do one well, like cleaning the outdoor furniture or washing the dishes or tightening some screws on some new electronic marvel that abjures the essence of quality for a quick sale at a price determined for lining the pockets of the manufacturers or their angels, now called entrepreneurs or middle men, i feel as i have reached Maslow’s highest level of self-actualization.
Silly me: it’s what makes our world go round.
But i am an old curmudgeon. And somewhere in the middle of this, i realized i was cultivated for rebelling against planned obsolesce even while i am a living example of it.
You see, i remember that time back on Castle Heights Avenue about the time i went to that community Easter Sunrise Service. It was before the folks built on with a breakfast room, a den, an upstairs master bedroom, and a grand carport. Back then, it was a back porch, small i grant you, screened in. Now, if you haven’t heard, it rains back home. Did then too. So on rainy days when we couldn’t go out in shorts, shirtless, and barefoot, we played on the porch.
And on that porch was my little wooden red wagon, not filled with windup or battery powered plastic toys. Not even the teddy bear whose head was sawed off with my toy carpenter tools. No, that little wagon was filled with…blocks of wood, waste from Uncle Snooks construction business with his brother, Ben Hall who lived on a magic farm out on Trousdale Ferry Pike.
The blocks were just small chunks, pieces cut off from studs and assorted cuts from house building. But they were a world of imagination for us.
We built the Tower of Babel. Must have been: we never finished it; it would always fall down. We built forts, ranch houses with fences for the corrals, we built railroad stations. And of course, with Martha there, we built doll houses.
Of course, i don’t remember how many times we played with those blocks of wood, or how long we played on that little porch in that little piece of innocence it that little town. But it was, no, is magic. Uncle Snooks, a farmer in the war, stayed at home and treated me (and others) like the son or daughter he never had. He gave me my first football. He gave me the gift of his laughter and allowed us to make fun of him.
But the greatest gift he ever gave me were those blocks of wood, which we turned into fairy tales on that back porch in the rain.
Sitting under the shade umbrella in the late afternoon of the Southwest corner, my ruminations made Easter seem just right.