As we approach this holiday that we call Easter or Resurrection Sunday as the new term goes among Christians, I can recall how I viewed the most famous Sunday of the year. My first memory was the first Easter egg hunting contest I participated in at the age of 4. It was at Frank Holten State Park in East St. Louis with Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. This was the first time that I discovered my competitive streak because I remember saying to myself, “I have to win this contest!” I was fired up! Next thing I know when they said, “Go!” I was out like a Child of the Corn snatching up eggs left and right under trees, bushes, leaves or whatever! I filled up with more than two dozen and smashed the competition. I enjoyed the praise from my mother and felt that first sense of pride and accomplishment. Sadly I never won another egg hunting contest. But who cares right?
As a side note on the egg hunting subject: I can’t help but remember my friend Allison who has three dogs. The animals are her “kids” if you will. And I remember that in years past she would have Easter egg hunts among her pets. I witnessed one of these and it was just hilarious as she hid the eggs and then told the doggies to go for it. Of course they would look at her like, “What the hell?” Then she would blissfully lead each one to find their own eggs. “Over here Snickers…look! Ohhh you found it!” (Clapping) A God loving Lutheran from Wisconsin, it was all about tradition and love. I admired her commitment. But it was still funny!
The next thing that comes to mind about Easter is the infamous speeches we had to give in church. I remember my first one of course. I was pressed in my new suit and clean with my tight hair cut. It was pretty simple since I was pretty young. I stood in front of the church in silence, just long enough to make them think I had forgotten my lines. Then burst out with, “What are you looking at me for? I didn’t come to stay. I just came to say Happy Easter Day!” To which they all laughed and I was relieved. See I was just a little tot, but that line was befitting my stage of advancement. No way I was going to just accept saying, “Jesus wept.” I knew that was weak!
When I was about 12 or 13 the stakes got raised. At Mt. Calvary Baptist in South Bend, we had a sunrise Easter play. No biggie. I would just be a disciple or something. Something without too many lines. But no! The teacher who also happened to be my principal at school Mr. Jordan thought that I should be Jesus. I was like, “Noooooooo!” cause he was the main character and had tons of lines. I was not trying to remember all those lines. Who did he think I was? Billy D. Williams or something? “Look man, I can be a great sheep!” But no. He said, “I think you’re the brightest kid here. I know you can handle it.” Geeeez!
The play was pretty serious which included me carrying the cross on my back to the choir stand and being crucified. I got through the lines pretty well too with the exception of the one time I got in the middle of the B-Attitudes… “Blessed are the uhhhh… (silence) …they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Sigh)
As an adult, now I look at Easter as the one day I won’t go to church cause it’s so crowded. When I attended church regularily, I looked at it as giving up my seat for those who would only attend this one day a year. I also see the Saturday before Easter as the one day you don’t want to be caught needing a haircut cause you can forget it as every black man with a fade, crop, or afro would be lined up trying to get that fresh cut to go with that suit he’s going to buy later on that day. Ha! That is for the birds. Now Easter for me is an easy going Sunday that I hope to just relax on. Sure I remember the resurrection, but it’s something I tend to think of several hundred times the rest of the year. Neither of these remembrances require a speech, a play, an egg hunt, a hair cut, nor a suit. And I am cool with that.