My youngest just turned two years old last month & so I am observing Passion Week leading up to Easter through fresh eyes once again. I have been observing how she is soaking it all up for the first time… from the buds of spring, to her keen awareness of birds chirping, to the tales of some distant hopping bunny that leaves sugary treats on the front porch, & as her mama, I long for her to learn about & one day on her own let the Hope found in Jesus be the long-lasting salve to her soul.
I have a thing for holidays, the markers throughout the year that speak to something Greater. I have grown very fond of the rhythm of New Years, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all those in between. I appreciate the history & richness of tradition, and even relish in the excuse to decorate.
Yet, as a new mom six years ago with a newborn it became very apparent that stripping away the Americanized versions of these holidays would be no easy feat. My oldest (6) was getting his haircut as a toddler a few years ago when the hair dresser asks: “have you been good? what is Santa going to bring you?” I’ll never forget his face, so confused & unaware of this notion. Fast forward a few years to my middle son pointing to some plastic eggs in the grocery when a well-meaning store a stranger says “are you ready for the Easter bunny to come soon so you can gets lots of candy?” Wow, the fading focus of these all these celebrations have over time shifted drastically from their religious roots!
So how do we as parents enter in to this Passion Week, partly indulging in the goodness + the trendy delights of chocolate eggs + peeps, while still uncovering the True Sweetness that lasts beyond the bunny?
I personally stumble + fumble around to seize the little moments to speak to the deeper message.
This past weekend we hosted an easter egg hunt for some friends + community group families. There were handfuls of little ones packed on my back porch eager to scour our yard for tiny plastic eggs filled with sweet treats. Before they hit the ground running I took a split second to awkwardly ask “why are we hunting for these eggs?!” … “It’s almost Easter” yelled one little guy… “well why do we celebrate Easter” I said… “Jesus, God, the tomb, etc.” flooded out of their confident mouths. You could see it in their eyes that they were hungry for the Truth, the real reason behind Easter & all the fuss. I blurted out a few phrases in summary saying something to the effect of: “He loves us so much that he died, rose again,… & He is alive!” Then we let the flood gates open so they could run wild + experience that childlike faith we all long to rediscover in these moments that come with the thrill of the hunt! Did anything I say penetrate their lil souls? Maybe 1-2, but I like to think that at least some seeds were watered… the seed thats growing from the way they see their parents love one another, or the art work they did at Sunday School, or the friend who will sacrifice at school the next day will give them a glimpse. What a gift it is as parents to have a front row seat to see all they process & to be there, ready to go when they ask the why questions!
Last night after returning my middle son (3) to bed numerous times with consequences, the final time he just looked up at me with his crystal baby blues and said: “but mama I was just laying in bed wondering how God made everything in the world.” It was 9:30pm, after a long weekend, and I was already in my own bed for the night. The timing of his deep thoughts were inconvenient, but I felt the Spirit nudge… this is worth the extra 10 minutes. So I pulled him up into my comfy covers, wrapped him up, & we pulled out the Jesus Story book bible to read about how God made all of Creation & saw that it was good, especially His children that He saved for last. The wonder in His eyes made it so clear to me that we just cannot pass up these natural moments that catch us off guard when we are ready for sleep. These are the moments that all the seeds get watered. My heart still swells just thinking about how engaged he was because he wanted to know more.
So… as a parents, we have the chance to choose those intentional conversations, in fleeting moments, with every opportunity we can in our tiny corner of the world…using the symbols of the holidays to point back to the Creator who made life, fertility, blossoms, animals. The One who reigns over life & death, light & dark, everything living, breathing, and dying on this earth. I ask the Spirit to guide me, in an effort not force it, but for Him to provide the moments for me to share the why’s behind it all, slowly throughout our days.
A few simple, yet profound resources I use from year to year:
JesusStoryBook Bible (Genesis + the Gospels)