by Father Mark Goldasich
Ah, but it’s a sad tale. Just a few days ago, a man was driving along. Suddenly, the Easter bunny hopped into his lane. He swerved, but it was too late. Bam! The bunny went flying and the eggs in his basket spilled everywhere. The driver, shaking and filled with remorse, began to cry.
A woman saw the man, pulled over, and asked what was wrong.
“I accidentally killed the Easter bunny,” wailed the man.
The woman sprang into action. She went to her car, pulled out a spray can, walked over to the bunny and emptied the entire contents all over the poor, furry little animal.
The effect was literally miraculous! The Easter bunny came back to life, jumped up, gathered up all of the scattered eggs into his basket, waved at the man and woman, and hopped on down the road. After several yards, the Easter bunny stopped, turned around and waved again. He kept doing this until he finally crested a hill and disappeared from view.
The man was astonished and asked the woman, “What in heaven’s name was in that can you sprayed on the Easter bunny?”
The woman showed the man the can’s label. It read: “Hair spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds permanent wave.” (Hey, don’t blame me for this story! I found it in Jesuit Father Richard Leonard’s book, “Preaching to the Converted.”)
Have you ever found yourself wondering about the Easter bunny? What’s up with a rabbit delivering eggs anyway? Happily, Father Richard clears things up. He reminds us that “Christianity has had a gift for domesticating local traditions and festivals, bringing them on board and making them our own.” The Anglo-Saxons had a spring festival in honor of the goddess Eastre, whose symbol was the rabbit. Giving out eggs was the sign of “new life bursting forth as winter withdrew.” Naturally, for us Christians, the empty tomb is the shell that remains once Jesus rises to life on Easter morning.
Don’t you think our tired, old world can use some new life? It appears that everywhere you look, someone is unhappy about something . . . and they’re more than ready to dump it all on you. This steady diet of negativity — from newspapers, conversations, TV, radio, and the Internet — can bring down the spirits of even the most optimistic people.
As Christians, though, we’re not to let that happen. Easter is our joyful challenge to find light in the darkness . . . and to help others see that light. Remember that Easter is not just a day — it’s an entire season, which lasts this year through May 23, the celebration of Pentecost. As I’m sure you know, Pentecost means the “50th day” after Easter. That’s how long we’re officially called by the church to be under the influence of Easter joy. While I usually do a pretty good job of it through the week after Easter and maybe even a few days beyond, after that, my joyful enthusiasm tends to fade pretty rapidly.
As Jesus said a number of times, maybe we need to learn a lesson from the children around us. One of the popular things for them to do at this time of year is to go on an Easter egg hunt. We do one here at the parish and I honestly don’t know who has more fun: the kids scrambling to scoop up the plastic eggs or the adults watching them!
This year I’m determined to keep the Easter spirit alive all 50 days, and I’m looking to Easter eggs to help me with that. Here’s my idea: I’m going to get 50 of those plastic eggs that you see everywhere this time of year. Each day of the Easter season, I’m going to leave one of those eggs somewhere for someone. (In these hyper-vigilant and nervous times, I’ll limit my egg surprises to people I know.) I’m not sure what exactly I’ll put in the eggs. Certainly, a little bit of candy, but probably also some words of encouragement or a lottery ticket or a couple of stamps or a small religious medal. It will be fun to unexpectedly brighten someone’s day, and I suspect it will keep the spirit of the risen Lord fresh in my heart and mind.
How about joining me in this Easter season egg project? Send me an e-mail sometime about who you surprised and what you put in the egg and maybe I’ll share some of those stories here around Pentecost.
Until then, be careful driving, and keep a can of hair spray handy . . . just in case.