“What do you think was the bravest action ever?” my husband asked at breakfast last Sunday.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe the first rodeo clown who ever voluntarily jumped in a barrel and let a Brahma bull head-butt him across the arena?” I thought my guess was brilliant, but it wasn’t as simple as Larry’s conjecture.
“Sorry,” Larry said, grinning like the guy ringing the gong-of-failure on a 1960s TV game show. “The actual bravest action was taken by the first person who ever ate an egg.” What??
Larry described an imaginary scene: two people looking intensely at a chicken, wondering what elliptical object it had just left on the ground.
“I don’t know what it is, do you?”
“No, but I think I’ll eat it.”
My daughter Abby and her husband Chad have just started farming, and on her most recent visit, she proudly brought us two dozen farm-fresh eggs. Even though I like eggs, I admit to having been skeptical about those recently laid ones; still, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
“Sure I’ll try one,” I said, internally grimacing. “They look delicious.”
Actually, they were all different sizes, from marbles to golf balls. I went into my imaginary newsroom and playfully transposed those facts into a twisted weather report: “Today, in what appeared to be a normal Saturday morning homestyle breakfast,” I broadcast to my pretend audience, “a Texas mother found hailstone-sized eggs on her kitchen counter.”
Abby’s first farm eggs boasted extraordinarily bright orange-colored yolks, and I was reluctant to taste them. But Abby was praising the delicacy, so I took a tentative bite of the egg she had fried for me. It was tasty, as brilliant as its color, rich and delicious.
Sure enough, it turned out that fictitious guy who ate the first egg was indeed brave — but also correct. I went ahead and asked Abby for a second helping.
As the 2014 Easter season begins, we enjoy the egg as a perfect food, one that has only 70 calories, but still raises our good cholesterol count. Additionally, though, it provides an ever-expanding source of traditions for celebration. We especially enjoy traditions that involve chocolate eggs — which unfortunately have more than 70 calories.
But there are also jeweled Fabergé eggs whose value is beyond delicious, traditional or sentimental; and Ukrainian eggs, painted so intricately one admires the technique just slightly more than the generosity they represent.
Multiple legends, from Roman to Chinese, tell of the Phoenix, a mythological bird that lives a legendary 500 years, then builds itself a twig nest that burns and reduces itself and the Phoenix to ashes. A new Phoenix egg arises, though, and is destined to live as long as its old self. This is a real story of resurrection.
On the Christian side, a traditional Easter church legend tells of Mary Magdalene bringing boiled eggs to the other women at the tomb of Jesus. When she sees the risen Christ, the eggs in Mary’s basket miraculously turn brilliant red.
Another story tells of Mary Magdalene as an evangelist, who visits the Emperor Tiberius in Rome. “Christ has risen,” Mary says, in greeting. When Tiberius hears those words, he points to an egg on his table and announces, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” The egg, legend says, immediately turns blood red.
The first person to eat an egg was a risk-taker indeed. But the apostles were even braver, listening to Jesus when He asked that they drop everything and follow Him, even though they would thus have absolutely nothing left in this world. Bet on me, Jesus said.
The apostles took the gamble, followed Jesus to his cross, mourned for Him after He died, and then rejoiced three days later, when Mary Magdalene ran to them and announced, “I have seen the Lord” John 20:18.
The Easter egg is a perfect food, as well as a perfect image of the everlasting life Jesus’ resurrection promised. The egg nourishes us, but also has the potential of producing a chicken, in essence nourishing us forever.
But Jesus promised more. He said He would feed us eternally with his own words, and even better, He would do this while we live with Him in Heaven. A no-risk warranty, for sure.
Who’s braver: a rodeo clown? The guy who first decided to taste an egg? Or those who followed Jesus?
I choose to be brave enough to follow Jesus.
I am going to count on the power of faith, the endurance of hope, and mostly, the labor of love.
“What do you think was the bravest action ever?” my husband asked at breakfast last Sunday. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe the first rodeo clown who ever voluntarily jumped in a barrel and let a Brahma bull head-butt him across the arena?” I thought my guess was brilliant, but it wasn’t as simple as Larry’s conjecture.