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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Watching Easter Unfold

 

I remember the time when the Easter season meant the television media would overload viewers with visions of artificial green grass, the sound of clucking, colorful eggs and the camera panning to the sight of a rabbit sitting contently, appearing to be chewing on grass.

It is such a disjointed scene few could forget it. There’s the sound of a hen, the view of an egg — artistically overdone — and the rabbit laying in field of green plastic.

I’m thinking of the awkward collision of concepts.

I know theologians and historians can break it down. This belief system piggybacked the other for a specific reason and… But think about it. Most of us don’t even know why we have a rabbit, a field of eggs, a cave i.e. a grave and a cross on the same day. Tradition has ruled our lives to the point the response is “Oh, you know. It’s for the children.”

True. Not too many adults get wound up about chasing after boiled eggs; maybe coloring the eggs beforehand. Our family has a history of hiding eggs, the children collect them, and then do it again and again until the eggs are a twist of boiled and scrambled.

I’ve heard people say Easter is traced to a pagan holiday. There’s also an account that the rabbit and the eggs came to America as a German tradition. The explanation I read recently sounds more like a seasonal Santa, also in part rooted in German tradition.

The rabbit would deliver eggs to children who are behaving. Behaving is such a subjective word. What one parent thinks is spot on, another might think is too strict, or not strict enough. Besides. Isn’t the word “behaving” defined by some social standard of ethics and expectations? So whose values are we basing those social values on?

I remember when I was young joking with my aunt about “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I admit it. I was taunting her a little. Their family was old school enough I’m not sure they had a television, and her response reflected as much. “Well, the chicken. God made it.”

Well, even at that age, who can argue with an answer like that.

It kind of brings the package together. While we can divide the threads of history and debate if the eggs are a symbol of behavior rewarded, resurrection or some pagan holiday, and if the rabbit is a thief of eggs or an errand-boy for some otherworldly cause, what is equally hard to explain in human terms is why a man would allow himself to be dismantled, physically, for people who hated him, or at least were not interested in him.

How many people would stay in a crowd where your presence is not wanted and is clearly a threat to your own wellbeing? How many would say “These creatures aren’t worth it!” and walk away?

It would take a special kind of individual, one with more heart than human sense of preservation to complete what looks like a suicide mission with no visible cause, except a small following. Easter is about a series of hours with deeper meaning than a clucking rabbit and pretty eggs. For as important as is the gathering of family, it is deeper than that even. It is about acknowledging we are important, and loved, by someone who in human terms didn’t need to, who can’t be defined in human terms.

Easter as a celebration is behind us. However, like Thanksgiving, like Christmas, there are elements of the weekend that should stay with us all year.

 

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