Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Egg Hunts and the Holy Spirit

My hometown, Vandalia, IL, has several pretty parks. I grew up on Fillmore Street, close to City Park, Rogier Park, and (where the swimming pool is located) Greer Park. That first one is a low-lying area (with respect to the streets and the Illinois Central tracks) with a pavilion and playground equipment, and the park is watered by a small stream, usable for wading and adventure. Beside the tracks are large, abandoned foundations of (I believe) a long ago water tower. These were also great things on which to have adventures, though later, as teenagers, a buddy and I peed on one in imitation of the cover of The Who's album "Who's Next." The song "Baba O'Reilly" still takes me back to those concrete structures.

But I don't want to stray too far from childhood. Rogier Park is on the same side of Fillmore Street, just across (or at one place, under) the railroad tracks. I'm "borrowing" two pictures of the park from a Facebook friend who posted them on our hometown Facebook page. The local Lion's Club hosted an Easter Egg hunt in Rogier, and I remember being a little, little kid---maybe three or four years old (1960 or 1961) running through this landscape in search of Easter eggs. I remember that they were actual hard-boiled eggs, which apparently drew some concerns about the healthiness of hiding cooked food in the outdoors. So the following year and thereafter, good ol' plastic eggs, concealing Hershey's Kisses, were used.

As many people know, eggs function as a symbol of fertility and/or new life in many religious traditions. Eggs were a symbol in the Anglo-Saxon festival that Easter superseded, and eggs were also symbolic of Christ's resurrection. When painted red, as ancient Christian Mesopotamians did, the eggs could also symbolic his crucifixion. Thus began the practice within Christianity of coloring eggs. Regarding the search: among the children-focused aspects of the Seder is the hiding of the piece of matzo called the afikoman, which is hidden so that the kids can go searching for it.

Years ago I grew so tired of Christians (both lay and clergy) who had boxed-in ideas about spirituality: if it's not quick, results-oriented and quantifiable, it's not good. For me, having a happy church related event at a very young age, in a place already associated with happiness and freedom, was a tremendous way that the Holy Spirit planted seeds of faith in my life which grew and matured much later.

I don't want to be simplistic and too sentimental, but I don't want to presume to know God's mysteries, either. An Easter egg hunt isn't a big deal, and not necessarily a faith-related thing, but the Spirit can use such things that will help a child have a simple faith. Thank you to whoever boiled and colored a bunch of eggs and hid them in the spring grass, fifty-some years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment