Sometimes it is in verbalizing something that I come to realize the truth of it. (I guess what I mean is that I think while I am yet speaking or writing, rather than beforehand--not always the best habit, but it's often how my thoughts come together.) My brother and I e-mail back and forth sometimes, usually in a flurry for a few days, then nothing for weeks. It happened this way after Easter. I like to hear from him; he's the only one in my family that is so communicative. It isn't that we share faith, or much in the way of interests. Sometimes our sense of humor has similarities, and of course we know the family we were raised in, but that might be most of what we have in common.
So when he e-mailed me after Easter and told me of the Easter egg hunt he provided for his three teenage girls, as if it were a burden while I know he actually loved doing it (it was probably his idea, not his daughters'), I e-mailed him back about our strange yet perfect Easter. I don't think I realized just how perfect it was, how wonderfully God had known our needs more than we had ourselves, but in the writing of it, it became clear. Our God is good!
I think of Easter primarily as a day of remembering God's goodness, in Jesus' resurrection that assures ours; it is the greatest goodness, an intrinsic trait of God that manifested itself so powerfully and visibly in Jesus' rising from the dead. It is a goodness to which much of the world is tragically blind, and yet God in His abundant grace still provided it while all of us were still blind and dead in our transgressions. And God showed His goodness to us this Easter Sunday, not in causing us to celebrate it in the traditional way that we would have, but in the way that He Himself prescribed for us that day, in rest.
I had been busy for the previous week doing all sorts of cooking and having people over. Our daughter Katie was home from college and various people had called saying that they wanted to see her. She also wanted to get together with her friends from college a few times during that week (and I protested the irony in this, that she comes home to be with family and runs off to be with her college friends, but I am truly glad for the strength of these friendships). Altogether it was one of the busier weeks I've had in a while, of people coming by and Katie going places. Since Katie doesn't drive, there was more driving than usual. This is fine. I enjoy having her in town, and enabling her to catch up on rest, on homework, and on social life, which is for the most part the focus of her time when she is home. I joke that when she comes home she goes from sensory overload to sensory deprivation, but she is becoming so adept at the overload aspect that during this break she didn't allow herself to really enjoy the quiet as much as she did at Christmas break. But I digress.
Besides the added busyness of increased hospitality and providing for Katie's needs, I was also preparing for Easter. We had made arrangements for a family with five children (other than one on a trip) to come over for the afternoon after church. In my usual way, I prepared lots of food: ham, a potato dish, carrots, cole slaw, green bean casserole, and a pineapple upside-down cake. All of this in huge quantity to feed the masses. Also a bunch of bags of Easter candy for our usual pagan aspect of the day, an Easter egg hunt. I was glad that now we have a refrigerator in the garage, and I could put this food out there in an orderly way, rather than in the soggy and doubtful nature of coolers on the deck. Not only had I prepared this Easter dinner, but a couple of pull-aparts for a brunch at church, and then Sunday morning, I prepared a rice dish for this as well.
We enjoyed the church morning, and after that the brunch potluck, but just as it started we received some daunting news: the family we had invited had two members who were feeling sick. The flu has been going around the area, and it is a ghastly bug that hangs on and leaves a person with bronchial problems for a while--and I was picturing this as what they had. A horrible picture, especially with so many little ones. The other aspect was the picture of the refrigerator at home, so full of so many big dishes loaded with food. What could we do? We made plans to call another family on the way home, a family with seven children who could probably plow their way through most of the food we had on hand and who would enjoy an Easter egg hunt.
We called that family, but they couldn't come either; their goats were having kids, and needed attending for that time. Later I found out they had ten new kid goats. Glad it's them and not me! We went home still pondering who could come over. Once we got home, though, and walked through the door, a wave of exhaustion came over me. Not just a wave, rather, a flood. The lack of friends, of children running through the house was a mercy, a blessing, a rest. God is good. Three of us slept, Tim watched movies, and we had a restful afternoon, not even eating our Easter dinner, but finishing off some leftovers instead.
It also turned out that the family who came down sick had only a short-lived, light bug and recovered pretty much by the next day, so though they were sick for that time, it isn't as though our rest came at such a great cost to them as we thought. As it was, Katie came down with a sore throat a couple of nights later; maybe our mutual isolations were another mercy; it's good we didn't all join our germs together for a big germ-fest and get each other all the more bombarded while we were all so weak.
The next night, we had another family over who were already scheduled to come, and we had our Easter dinner a day late. It was wonderful to serve a big dinner with a huge rest between the day of making it and the day of serving it. I could not have (or rather would not have) planned it that way, but God in His wisdom and great love planned us a strange Easter that we didn't have the wisdom to plan on our own. God is good, and I love Him.