Resurrection Eggs

eggs open jesus

Right now my church job is doing Activity Days for the 8-year-old girls. As Easter is coming up, I decided to do a craft that would double as a FHE that the girls could do themselves: Resurrection Eggs. If you’ve never heard of these, I’m pretty sure the Evangelicals came up with them. You take 12 plastic eggs, and each one has a scripture in it along with an item that reflects part of the last days of Christ’s life on earth. My Southern Baptist friend had a set that I borrowed—and quickly gave back.  Most of the eggs were filled with implements of torture: a thorn, a nail, the cross, a whip. The rest were almost as depressing: three dimes/pieces of silver, dice to show how the soldiers wagered on his robe, a sponge with vinegar. I half expected there to be a tiny ear inside to represent Peter pulling a van Gogh on the dude who came to arrest Jesus. Maybe these eggs are suitable for Mel Gibson, but as a Mormon who sees Easter as a time of life, I just couldn’t foist these sadistic symbols on my little gals. Not that those events didn’t happen, but I think to tell the story only in terms of pain and sorrow is to rob Easter of its fuller meaning.  There’s a reason we associate bunnies and lilies and Cadbury chocolate with this holiday; it’s a time of rebirth and promise.  Yes there was pain and death but there was also hope. 

So I searched online for less morbid versions and found some good ideas, but none of them, not even the obviously Mormon ones, addressed the Atonement. I get it. It’s a hard concept, not one easily represented by something that can fit into a plastic egg.  And even as Mormons, I think when we teach kids about the Garden of Gethsemane we tend to shortchange what happened.  Just as Mormons feel the cross reduces the Savior to the crucifixion as opposed to the resurrection, we tend to make the Atonement all about sin when that is just a piece of it.  In Alma 7:11-12 it reads:  And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. If we only think of the Atonement in terms of Jesus suffering and dying for our sins, then we run the risk of thinking that if we can just keep from sinning then we don’t need the Atonement, as if it’s some insurance policy we are glad to have but would really prefer to never use lest our rates go up.  Maybe it’s age (or arrogance), but I feel like I SUFFER more than I SIN and have come to heavily rely on the Lord for the balm that the Atonement supplies.  I find great solace that Jesus experienced “pains, afflictions, temptations, sickness” and uses this knowledge to “succor” us. I want my children to know they can find comfort and peace no matter what the cause.

I settled on a plastic sacrament cup to put in egg #2 along with Luke 22:41-44 where Christ asks that the cup be removed.  It’s a bit abstract but it’ll do. The girls are delighted by the whole project, and we go through the scripture and importance of each object as we put them in our numbered eggs. It touched me to see them reenact the Last Supper and pass a loaf of bread around and each tear off a small piece for their own egg like sweet little deacons in pigtails.  Then comes the cup, representing the Garden and the Atonement. Third are the 3 dimes to show Judas’s betrayal. Fourth, a piece of twine as Jesus was bound by rope and taken to Pilate.  Fifth, a chunk of soap as Pilate “washes his hands” of it all. Sixth, a square of purple fabric to represent the mock royal robe Jesus was made to wear. Seventh, a nail to represent being placed on the cross. Eighth, tiny rocks to show that the earth shook and broke apart at the sadness of the Lord’s death. Ninth, a strip of white linen symbolizing the shroud the Savior was wrapped in by his friend Joseph. Tenth, a good size smooth stone indicating the rock that was placed in front of the tomb. Eleventh, cloves and bay leaves to show what Mary Magdalene and friends brought to anoint the body on Easter morning. And finally, the last egg is empty to represent the empty tomb. I made sure that final egg was the prettiest one. You can’t really overstate the importance of Life Eternal. One needs glitter for that.

And yet, for their day to day lives, I really pray the girls remember the power of egg #2. I took care to explain that the pain He suffered covered all of our sins—but so much more. I asked them to tell me about things that caused them pain. I got great answers: being teased, stubbing a toe, your best friend not liking you anymore, strep throat, pets dying, your dad getting mad at your when it’s not really your fault and on and on. After each answer I said, “Jesus understands that” or “He knows how bad that feels.” I want these girls to know that they have Heavenly Parents who get it.  They have access to divine comfort and healing. That is the heart of Easter.  Whether we are 8 or 80, we all need to feel like someone understands our pain and mistakes and loves us not just in spite of these weaknesses, but maybe even loves us a little more because of them.

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Valentine’s Day: Love and Blood and Water

A version of this essay first appeared at Segullah.org

“But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.” 

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

I picked up a box of “Hello Kitty” valentines in the grocery store because I was drawn to the images. The figures on the cards were simple line drawings. Simple.

In second grade we covered shoeboxes with doilies and red construction paper, cutting a slit in the top just big enough for a valentine envelope (and maybe a candy heart) to fit through. Back then our biggest concern in life was which valentine card to give to which classmate. Simple.

Then I thought about a man I had loved several years ago. He loved me too and we talked of marriage. We were friends who played and worked together and supported each other. But, in the end I could not marry him. The reasons aren’t important anymore, but they weren’t simple.

This interlude in the Valentine’s Day aisle got me thinking about what love is. And what it is not.

Love is simple. 

Love is not simple.

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Birth/Rebirth: Giving Miscarriage a Birth Story, Too

Guest post by Kathy

Image by Neal Fowler

Image by Neal Fowler

Kathy is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona. The original version of this piece appeared as a guest post at freshly-picked.com.

 

Not every pregnancy gets a story. I’d like to change that.

My second pregnancy ended six months before I had planned it would.

When I reached out to people I needed, some of them surprised me. They told me about their own miscarriages—that had happened during the time we’d been friends.

Why did you not say anything? I asked them. They shrugged. One said, Well, you know. I didn’t know.

I respect experiences that are private, but I suspect that miscarriage stories stay untold because they don’t have the same pay-off that birth stories do. At the end, there’s no baby. What’s the point in telling them?

The point is that we’re humans.

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Birth/Rebirth: AFTER

After

 

After becoming impatient at the GYN, so I went out and listened at her door

After I overheard her speak of a diagnosis, and thinking, “Wow. Glad that isn’t me!”

After finding out that it was me

After being told words like hermaphrodite and transsexual

After being told I might be male; and wondering if I was male. And gay.

After being told my chromosomes were female, but I could choose

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Birth/Rebirth: The Birth of Adulthood

Guest Post by Bec

Bec is an amazing friend and woman. She completed her PhD on nurses in the Korean War and currently lives in Australia.

It began with a BBQ chicken. Well, it began a few days before, but let’s start with the chicken. I was standing in my Mum’s kitchen. Family friends gathered in the backyard waiting for lunch and I was confronted with the chicken, or more precisely the responsibility of slicing the chicken. Mum had always done this.

The author on her wedding day with her mother.

The author on her wedding day with her mother.

All my life, I’d watched her neatly separate the pieces, portion out the stuffing, and dish the chicken on to each plate.

Now, Mum was gone, I was left to cut the chicken and despite watching her all those years I really had no idea how to do it. I knew it was ridiculous, but in that moment, only a few days after she died, I found that responsibility overwhelming. It was the culmination of a realisation that had begun in the hospital, that I was now the adult and I no longer had my Mum around to guide me.

In many ways the death of my Mum signalled the birth of my adulthood. Although I was 28, married, had just submitted a PhD and had been living out of home for a few years I hadn’t really felt like an adult until I lost my Mum.

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Birth/Rebirth: Birth and Rebirth through Divorce

Guest Post By Erin

From what I remember, (it has been almost 8 years since I pushed another life out of my body) birth is painful, messy, exhausting, and frightening. I can understand why Nicodemus might have been a little incredulous when he was questioning the need to be reborn, i.e. “You want me to do what???” However, there are times in life when a rebirth is absolutely necessary. Not because we weren’t right when we started, but because we have strayed from the person we were meant to be when we began.

Over the course of our marriage, my husband had taught me that I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t do much to please him, no matter how I tried. I logically knew that all the things wrong with our relationship weren’t my fault in total, but in order to maintain peace, I did the apologizing, I accommodated to his needs and wants, I did my best to change my verErin Guest Posty essence in order to please him through fourteen years of marriage. I was committed to my covenants and would have given up more if I could to protect my children from the spectre of divorce.

In September of 2012, my husband told me he couldn’t “do this” anymore and walked out the door leaving behind a well prepared letter of how visitation and child support and division of property and debts would proceed. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. A week before we had been making detailed lists of all the things we should plan to buy for birthdays and Christmases to prepare for a family goal of section hiking the Appalachian Trail over the next 7 years. His leaving came out of nowhere. Thankfully, the Spirit whispered, “Let him go, he knows what he is leaving and he is still making this choice. You will be okay.”

This wasn’t the rebirth, this was the conception what would be the birth of my new life.

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