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“I found one!”
The voice from the family room was that of my 30-something son, delighted in his find of an egg, undiscovered during the annual egg hunt on Easter Sunday.
The egg was overlooked by one of five grandchildren undertaking the hunt this year, a hunt that will, in some way, continue indefinitely, or until my grown-up egg hunters are certain all of the 85 hidden eggs have been found.
I’m familiar with the ritual. It’s been going on since they were young, and now that they’re older their pleasure in finding a small plastic treasure is not diminished with age. When they stop by to visit, I notice them nonchalantly wandering through the kitchen, the halls, and the family room, investigating nooks and corners, drawers and lamp shades, hopeful for a find.
I am always touched, in a way that probably only parents would be touched, to watch my grown sons relive, in some small way, a joyful tradition from their youth. Especially during the Easter season, their discovery quest inspires me to search for the small treasures that nurture my faith in God’s promises.
It’s so easy, in today’s culture, to lose sight of our reasons for hope and joy. Everyone seems to be on edge, stressed, disappointed, unhappy with so many aspects of life. A quick browse through social media reveals how many people are often caught up in their challenges, to the point where they become defined by their difficulties. For many, there is an absence of joy.
I learned my best lesson about joy several days before Easter many years ago. I was delivering an Easter basket, filled with food for an Easter dinner and a box of goodies for the children, to a family much in need. The dad was very ill, the mom was struggling to take care of three young children and worked many hours in a retail store. But it wasn’t enough. Their small house was in a bad state, shingles were missing from the roof, and there were some broken windows. But the front porch was a lovely space filled with spring flowers and two old, but serviceable, chairs for sitting and talking.
I rang the doorbell and waited for the mom to answer. When she saw the basket she exclaimed, “How lovely! I know just the family to give it to!” She was beaming from ear-to-ear, she exuded joy. We sat in those chairs for a few moments while she told me about the pressing needs of the other family, and I asked her how she could be so joyful and so generous when she faced so many difficulties herself.
She pointed to the flowers that filled her porch. She had grown them from seeds every year for the past decade. “God makes sure there is always new life,” she said simply. “If He promises it to the earth, why wouldn’t I believe He promises it to us, too?”
She helped me rediscover our reasons for hope, in spite of our challenges; an experience which lies outside our front door — in a blade of grass, a budding flower, a slimy worm, or the relentless ivy winding up an aging oak tree.
It’s hard to put into words what we experience when, after a cold winter, we notice young crocuses pushing up through the earth, or see the first forsythia or dogwood buds. It’s a resurrection of the earth, the renewal of God’s glorious creation, with all creatures and elements working in harmony.
In his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminds us, “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, His boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”
What better reason is there for joy?
“I found one!” The voice from the family room was that of my 30-something son, delighted in his find of an egg, undiscovered during the annual egg hunt on Easter Sunday.