Saturday, April 11, 2009


Easter season is a barrage of ancient symbols: rabbits and eggs and bonnets and hams and lilies, most of which seem to me to have more to do with natural springtime events than Christianity. In the South we also have the legend of the dogwood blossom which definitely seems to connect springtime to the cross.

There’s another symbol of Jesus and Christianity I had never thought about much about until recent years—the butterfly. In fact I never considered it an Easter or Christian symbol at all until three years ago when I was in a discussion group that read Sue Monk Kidd’s “When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions” in which there is a great deal of butterfly imagery. ( Actually, way too much for me, but sometimes things come together and make sense later on.)

Soon after we discussed the book, a week or so before Easter, I had a day with grandson William, then two and a half. I made a copy of a page out of a lovely “adult” coloring book with magnificent butterflies and gave it to him to color. He scribbled a bit then held it up for me to see, “Look, Grammy, William color JESUS…Alleluia!”

Naturally, his Grammmy decided he was a spiritual prodigy, at least until I found out that he had recently begun attending a “Little Lambs” Sunday School class taught by his mother. Little Lambs get to color, something he immediately associated with Sunday School and Jesus and Alleluia. I still think it was advanced for his age.

Walker and I happened to be celebrating our fortieth anniversary on Maui that Easter. It was my first Easter ever to celebrate away from my home church, but I was thrilled to be somewhere warm and sunny. Things didn’t seem so great at my home church anyway because we were “in transition” after the loss of our priest. Since I don’t ever feel quite comfortable with the unfamiliar, I was a little anxious too. Would it be too weird?

We scouted out a church on the beach not too far from our hotel and showed up for Easter Services. It was a traditional building with a steeple and a Celtic cross. Their sign had the familiar red white and blue shield of the Episcopal Church. Okay so far. Along each side of the building, windows without any screens tilted out creating a completely open air environment. You could hear the waves crash and smell the salt, and an occasional sea bird screeched. Just outside the windows, but within sight and hearing distance of the sanctuary, there were extra chairs set up for the overflow crowd.

Then we walked into the sanctuary, and the first thing I saw was the banner. It was a large one, obviously hand made, and it shouted what all Christians shout on Easter morning, ALLELUIA! It was covered with butterflies.

We sang “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” and “Hail Thee Festival Day”. The cross, the altar, the priest, and the choir members were draped with orchid leis. Different, but in a wonderful way, and familiar at the same time.

Easter Sunday in a far away place reminded me once again that Easter is really about more than the symbols. It’s about resurrection. I hope we all find our faith resurrected once again on this Holy Day. Alleluia!


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