A long, long time ago, I remember a discussion that took place in our living room. It had to do with the meaning of Easter, and we were very young. When quizzed on why Easter was important, one member of our clan simply replied, "Easter's for the chickens." At the time, when we were all a very Catholic family, the response was considered a wrong answer, although it has remained a family classic for years.
If I were asked today, what Easter's for, I'm probably spew out a similar answer. It's for the ducks. I looked out my window a few minutes ago and saw half a dozen mallard males swimming in my garden. Maybe Noah knows something about this and maybe Noah would understand why we've had rain for nearly every day of April, most of March and a major portion of February.
I don't know if it's hit the 40-day count yet, but at its present rate, I do know that I heard our KREM-TV weather man Tom Sherry announce two days ago that we'd already had more rain in the first 13 days of April than we'd had in the entire month last year. And, except for a few brief breaks, it's been raining continually ever since his assessment. That steady downpour has turned my garden into a nice swimming pool for the ducks.
Anyway, back to this Easter stuff, if it's for the chickens, God bless the chickens. If it's for Jesus Christ's resurrection, God bless the day. If it's for families to get together for church, brunch and a nice ham dinner afterward, God bless the families. If it's for dressing up in brand new spring fashions and going to a parade in some big city, that deserves a blessing too. If it's for spending a quiet day walking in the woods and beholding all that God has created, that's truly a blessing.
As adults, most of us who are raised Christian know the story of Christ's crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. We know of the characters---the denials, the alleged betrayals, etc. As children, it seems reasonable these days that chickens might come into the mix. After all, where do those painted eggs originate? I'd wager that at the time of the great revelation in our household, the responder was much more astute than a lot of kids who thought their bottled milk came from that truck driven by milkman. I'm sure in a lot of cases, no cow ever showed up in the picture for many kids until they got a little older and understood stuff about farms.
In our present household, we have varying traditions about Easter. My husband attends church several times during Lent. He's been down there at the Presbyterian Church almost every Thursday night when they serve soup and then have their service. Of course, he's there every Sunday also. In my case, I've been to Mass once in the past several weeks. My mother, my sisters and I will go to Mass in Bonners Ferry tomorrow and have breakfast at the Chic n' Chop Restaurant. (Hmmm. There's those chickens again). Then, Bill will join the rest of us for a ham dinner tomorrow afternoon at the Colburn farm.
I do not believe that God keeps score the same way humans do. I believe that God figures if we're doing the best we can to live out the basic principles of His teachings in our individual ways, he's not gonna strike us down for how many times we don't show up at church. I also don't believe we need to confess every error of our ways. This demand was pounded into us as children where I grew up, and I had a problem with it then. They'd already taught us that God knew everything. That basic lesson of God's ominscience came before they taught us that we needed to confess everything. Maybe if they'd turned it around, I would have had a different attitude.
Somehow, the need for confessing to a priest didn't quite make sense to me. Besides, through my religious teachings, I've been made to feel enough guilt to last several lifetimes. I always feel terrible the minute I know I've done something wrong. Since those teachings of long ago, during my childhood when the Church ruled all its flock with an iron hand, I've watched what has gone on in my church---among its leaders, many of whom were designated to listen to and comment on the sins of their flock.
A lot has changed since that long ago proclamation of Easter and the chickens. It may have been the wrong answer that day in our household, but I'm wondering what God was thinking when He heard it come from the mouth of an innocent child. I'll bet he chuckled a bit. I also wonder what God is thinking when He watches the hypocrisy which gets spewed across this world in the name of religion. I'll bet he's shed a tear or two.
I think God is much more forgiving than many humans. I believe that He smiles upon those who are doing their best both inside and outside the church buildings. If they're treating their fellow man, the Earth and all the wonderful beasts on this planet with respect---even the chickens at Easter, I'll bet He's smiling.
Happy Easter to all wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate.