Easter Countdown – Part 1 “Johnathan has a starring role”
Over the next few days, I am planning a countdown to my most favorite holiday. Each and every year, I stand in awe of what actually took place on that hill almost two thousand years ago. At church, our pastor has a sermon series on the the last words/phrases of Christ. It has been amazing and inspirational. This a-typical weather has been a blessing too – as Easter symbolizes the rebirth of God’s creation in the physical world as well as the spiritual world.
Having grown up in the deep South, I am enamored with all things Easter. My favorite tradition outside of church is the egg hunt. I can still remember the annual egg hunt at the college president’s house where the eggs where hidden in the backyard, down the hill, for as far as my little eyes could see.
Since I recently read an article in Mary Jane’s farm about being an idealist, I realize now that I tend to romanticize my Southern upbringing as a place where all good things happen like a perfect blend of The Walton’s, Steel Magnolias, and just a pinch of sass from Designing Women and Fried Green Tomatoes. So, I will confess to you all the part of the story that I often leave out. The eggs we hunted in that blazing Georgia sun, were not plastic ones . . . but yes, the real deal.
Part of that idealism comes from having a wonderful imagination and dogged persistence that this world can be a better place. Sometimes that change for the better needs to start at home. So that’s exactly what we did last night as a family. We relished being together, by taking a pause from our crazy schedule. We took time to create a little project that involved remembering what this week really means as Christians, spending time together and using one of our beloved outdoor friends.
I have wanted to do this project for years, but just never seemed to get organized in time to pull it off. Once I saw that we were reclaiming our Sunday evening, we managed to pull it off. Our biggest problem was finding a rock to do the job. I asked the kids if they knew if we had a rock about this big. (Imagine me holding my two hands together to form a circle.) The response was swift. “Oh, I think Johnathan could work.” Wow! I had forgotten about him.
Johnathan is a “pet” rock that was actually a gift to Reed’s garden from Grandpa Phil and Grandma Rhoda. Since his arrival he has had appearances in many practical jokes, play times, and sometimes family dinners. Remember I stated that imagination is a big part of my (and subsequently my children’s) existence, so it didn’t faze me at all that there was a rock in the back yard with a big name. And no, Johnathan isn’t the only inanimate object around here that has a name and personality. (My kids will never have to worry about the definition of personification in school.)
I don’t know exactly who, but someone, dug Johnathan out from his winter hiding spot, and the fun began after supper. We gathered pots, potting soil, grass seed, twigs, thread, and water. What we created was a table sized Calvary garden.
Everyone participated. Even though we know that Johnathan has no feelings, we all surged with pride when we realized what a big job he has this week. What we didn’t expect was how much fun it was to just slow down and do something creative together while focusing on the symbolism of our little garden.
But isn’t that similar to our own faith journeys? How many times do we hustle along, only to get stuck in a rut and then can’t figure out what to do? More than a piece of granite that has very little connection to our lives, we have the Rock of Ages that can bolster us by providing hope . . . if only we turn to him. Rather than a cold piece of stone, we have the one, true, LIVING God who cares about us and wants us to remember his name. He longs for us to call on him. I think deep down I know that is why I love Easter so much, because it is the time each year that I renew my strength by remembering . . . “On Christ, the solid rock, I stand!”
Idealism alert: For anyone who thinks that this project went without a hitch, we will also confess that for a bit we only had two crosses, because Huckleberry (our dog) thought sticks in the house looked mighty tasty. Of course, Sawyer soothed our dismayed emotions by explaining that Huck just thought that it was terrible how Jesus died and he didn’t want a reminder of it.
We used a shallow pot that the kids have for creating fairy and gnome gardens in the summer. Fill the pot about 2/3 full of potting soil and place the smaller pot on it’s side. Play around with the location because you want a good spot for the rock (Johnathan for us!) to be able to roll. Once you are set on location, add your stone. Now add more potting soil over the smaller pot to create the hill. Take 3 small twigs and break them to create crosses. We used sewing thread to tie them together into cross shapes. Secure them in the soil around your hill. Next add grass seed. Water liberally. Water twice every day to encourage sprouting. Good Friday seal your tomb. Easter morning, roll the stone away. He is Risen!