|photo by NumiGuy / flickr|
Every Easter I remember a story that fell into my hands several years ago. There was a woman named Kay who was Associate Pastor of a Methodist congregation in Georgia. After twenty-five years of marriage her husband came in one day and told her he wanted a divorce. He had found someone else prettier and younger. He wanted to be free and she gave him his freedom. She writes that she and her sixteen-year-old son had to begin life over again, rebuilding their family, just the two of them. There was a two-year separation before the divorce, which she found very difficult as she tried to adjust to single life again. She leaned on her pastor-colleague continually. He was a great man who would listen to her without judgment. She said she would sit in his office and cry and wring her hands and say, “I don’t know what I am going to do. I just do not know what I am going to do.” One day, between sobs, he pulled from his desk drawer an Easter egg. He gave it to her and said, “I’m going to give you this plastic egg. One of this days you will use this egg to bury your relationship and let life begin again.” Those were the only instructions he gave her. He told her she would know what to do with the egg when the time came.
Two years later the divorce was to be finalized in Myrtle Beach. She and her son flew down for that unhappy occasion. As she sat in the office of the lawyer she remembered that day in 1963 in Oklahoma when a nineteen-year-old and a twenty-year-old had been hopelessly in love. As the lawyer droned on and on, she remembered the happier times. The lawyer kept saying: “You get this, he gets that…”. Finally the divorce decree was granted, and she stumbled out of the courthouse. Kay said that she brought with her the plastic egg her pastor had given her. She and her son walked down to the Atlantic Ocean. She took out of her purse a picture of a young couple and the happiest Christmas they had ever spent. She took the picture and folded it and placed it inside the Easter egg. She walked across the sand to the water’s edge and threw the egg as far as it would go. She ran through the sand, grabbed her boy and they sobbed and sobbed. Mother and son began to walk slowly back to the car. She remembered praying, "Dear God, bring something good out of this bad thing. Let Easter happen to me."
Kay reported that she was tempted to look back hoping to see a butterfly emerge from that egg. She longed to hear a voice that would say comfortingly, “He’s going to come back. It’s going to change. It’s going to get better.” But she did not look back. She heard no voice. She just kept walking toward the car. Later she would realize that painful act of throwing away that egg with the picture of her and her husband inside was really the first funeral she ever conducted as pastor.
After reading her story, I gave each person who came to church the next Easter a plastic Easter Egg. I told them Kay’s story. I asked everyone to take a scrap of paper we had provided and write down a word that represented some hard thing in their lives. I then instructed them to place their petition inside the egg and ask God to give them a fresh start. After all were finished writing the Ushers came forward with large baskets, collected the eggs and brought them to the altar. At the front of the Church on the communion table the broken things of all our lives covered that table that morning. Eggs of blue and green and yellow and red symbolized our need for Easter. We had a prayer that day in which we asked God to take the broken things of our lives and make them right.
I wrote the Methodist preacher and told her how much I had appreciated her story and what I had done that Easter morning with her experience. Kay wrote me back and said, “That’s not the end of my story. I moved on to another place and have two churches where I am now Pastor. And since I have moved here I have met someone. We are getting ready to get married. He understands me and I love him and I have never been happier.” She ended the letter by saying, “There really is life after death. I ought to know.”
Every Easter I keep remembering Pastor Kay and her story. I also remember my church and that mound of Easter eggs. I remember the last words of her letter: there really is life after death. Easter says it doesn’t matter how difficult things may be. We can start over again. We can all begin again. Life really does come after death. That's Easter!
|photo by KentarOh / flickr|
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com