By Becky Mahoney
Sunday is the day much of the world celebrates the risen Christ. Easter has always been my favorite holiday. I easily become caught up in a personal faith journey, walking hand in hand with Jesus as he offers up his life as an example of all the lessons I need, to find everything I’m looking for. The message of Holy Week has taught me many things and I hold it up as a reminder at times. Maundy Thursday tells me, even in the darkest of hours, when God appears to be silent, He hears my prayer. Good Friday embodies the kind of forgiveness that sets souls free. Easter Saturday reinforces, sometimes we need to wait patiently, sit in the silence and trust. The most dynamic example of the fruits of faith is the vision of the empty tomb; a symbol of the undeniable promise of resurrection and enduring love. What we often think of as the end, is just the beginning. We shall rise again. I hold onto that image for dear life, clutch it close to my heart; in times of disappointment, loss, and especially death. For God so loved the world, he sent his Beloved Son to show us how to live.
This cycle of life, death and resurrection is especially meaningful to me this year. My youngest granddaughter’s birthday is Easter Sunday. She will be seven and is the light of our little family, beloved by all of us, even her two older, competitive sisters. For me, her birthdate is special too because she was born on my Dad’s birthday. I prayed for her to born on April 20th. Somehow I thought if she would arrive on the birthdate of the man I referred to by a number of names through the years, it would help me to hold onto the memory of him, through her. When I was five, he was daddy, by age twelve I called him, father. Moving into my teenage years, he became “The Colonel.” By the time I was married and had a child of my own, he was my dad. My cherished dad. When did he become so wise and tender?
The day of her birth, I wrote in my journal a little note to my Dad whose address is now heaven, and thanked him and God for giving her to us. As the years passed, I’ve shared with him how much she has meant to us and how hard it must have been for him to kiss her sweet face and release her from heaven’s glory and safety, entrusting us to love her now. It comforts me to think about his delight in knowing her even before we did. This belief resonates truth for me. He loved children, and I would watch in amazement as this regimented, disciplinarian and military man, became a marshmallow dipped in chocolate sauce when it came to the little ones. He was an honorable man and some people would describe him as a good man, but, he was unapproachable in many ways. That is until small children entered the room. These were the times I saw his eyes soften, his face light up, and the sound of robust laughter shook away all rigidity and order. Belly laughs of joy echoed through his fading memory, to be remembered by his heart when his mind was fogged with the disease of Alzheimers.
I feel so blessed to have our little girl share his birthday. As I watch her grow, enjoy her moments and discoveries, it transports me back to his delight in my own daughter. That always evokes a good “remember when grandpa did,” conversation with her. It all comes flooding back, and he is alive again. Resurrected and sharing knock-knock jokes just to see us roll our eyes in pretend boredom while secretly treasuring every one of them. For God so loved the world, he gave us memories to hold us over until we meet again.
On this Easter Sunday as I gather with my little family and celebrate the life of two men centuries apart and a little girl, I know I will hear the laughter of my father, sweeping down to embrace the giggles, with his tiny birthday buddy as we celebrate her special day too. This is all so easy for me to see. The angels. The empty tomb. Dad and Jesus celebrating so many things. Birthdays and eternal life. I will not look for the living among the dead. It’s a day for some big time celebration.
Happy Birthday. Happy Easter. May the spirit of the day touch your heart with its message of enduring love.