Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Resurrection

We had just about the most perfect Easter ever.  I’ve lived long enough to know what a rare thing a perfect holiday is. Anything hyped to the degree that Christmas and Easter are, seldom is able to live up to what the television ads tell you to expect.  I’ve had countless family events that held great potential but in the end, failed for one reason or another. But this time, all the things that had to fall into place, that had to show up and show out, this time for once it all worked—we had the perfect family holiday.  

The first order of business for an Els Family Easter is always a gigantic bonfire.  Elizabeth, who was married to an Aggie and went to more than a few A&M bonfires, is always in charge of our Easter fire. We serve as her enthusiastic minions all year long, carefully laying aside logs we hope will be worthy. The goal this year was to beat the Easter Fire of 2010, the most photogenic one we’ve ever had.  That’s the one on my facebook cover.  Some families post pictures of themselves in their new Easter clothes heralding the arrival of spring.  Our family takes photos of a fire and compares it to other ones we’ve had, saying “Yes, it’s pretty but it’s no 2010.”

I have a long and checkered history with fire.  For a while there I managed to let a few brush fires get out of control and it got to the point where the volunteer fire department didn’t have to ask for directions to our house anymore.  But the Easter Fire is different. That fire is deliberately and carefully set in a special place with not a blade of grass, odd bits of paper or anything slightly flammable anywhere nearby.  After winter is finished we’re usually left with trees that have fallen or been cut down for one reason or another.  We set aside the biggest logs from pine and oak.  Only sturdy wood worthy of respect go into our Easter fire.   
 

We had a good one Friday night-- it was still “no 2010” but we knew we could make it even better Saturday.  However,  around 3 a.m.lightning filled the sky followed by bellows of thunder and it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  I lay in bed  and silently kissed the Easter Fire of 2013 goodbye.

The next morning we switched gears and had a Grand Release of the five ducks I bought about a month ago.  I made the switch from chickens that ate my garden and pooped on my porch over to ducks.  Their sole job will be to gently glide across our pond and bring an air of peace and tranquility to our lives.  I bought five ducklings and kept them in a box waiting for them to be old enough to release into the pond.  We moved their cage to the edge of the water and opened the door with baited breath.  It was quite literally a picture of the phrase, “like a duck takes to water.”  It was almost a spiritual moment to see a creature discover the experience they were created for.

After the duck release we followed  Elizabeth out to check on the fire and found to our amazement that there were coals still living.  The underside of the logs had been sheltered just enough from the rain that all Elizabeth had to do was flip each log over, throw kindling on them and stir the coals a bit.  We were back in business.

One of the phenomena I stand in awe of is a fire that is sturdy enough to withstand rain. When I was in Girl Scout Training there was a legendary leader who claimed her girls built a fire on aluminum foil that was washed into a stream with flames still flickering as it floated along. I always aspired to similar glory.  And this fire apparently had the Chutzpah to make it through a rainstorm

 Saturday brought more fun things than a day could hold.  We watched the ducks celebrate their lives and ate ourselves into afternoon naps.  We set out to eat healthy this year and issued a family-wide edict to limit ourselves to a mere 2 pies.  We decided to eat our big meal on Saturday so we could enjoy the leftovers.  And Elizabeth’s fabulous macaroni & cheese was about all anyone ate for the next three meals.  I am so relieved that we turned over this new leaf and ate healthy this Easter.

Our neighbors with their four kids came over and we orchestrated the mother of all Easter Egg hunts for  six kids, hiding 240 eggs spread over 20 acres.  Then we all sat outside and visited while the kids explored their booty.  Two more pies appeared as well as some chips and dip.  We’re really getting good at this healthy eating.


Periodically Elizabeth would walk out to the fire and add more huge logs.  At the end of the day, after Emily and the girls had gone on to bed, Elizabeth and I sat by the fire.

There is something about a fire, some spiritual quality in the nature of a fire.  Something you can’t put your finger on…What is fire, anyway?  It’s not a solid, not a liquid or a gas.  It’s not fog or steam. You can’t hold it—even if you had fireproof gloves.  It’s constantly moving, never still.  There is an unspoken air of mystery and power in a fire.  An evening spent around a fire outdoors invites you to lower your voice and listen to the night
.

The next morning, Resurrection Day brought another rain.  And this one was worse than the first one.  This one was a Frog Strangler.  We have two levels of hard rain in Texas with Frog Strangler being worse than a mere Gully Washer. A Frog-Strangler is the worst you can get. There would be periodic blasts of     rain akin to having a bucket of water thrown on you. Once again I knew for sure the fire was a goner.  At breakfast we watched it from the window and saw something unbelievable:  As the wind periodically picked up and blew the rain sideways we could see the fire flame up.  It was a surreal departure from logic: the fire seemed to grow stronger in the worst part of the rain.  While the great pile of logs must have sheltered the coals from the water,  the wind was feeding the coals with gusts of oxygen.  And I thought to myself, “Now I’ve seen everything.”

It came time to go to church. Normal people don’t go outside the house in a rain like that but I had signed up to teach Sunday School and this was my first week.  Plus it was Easter. Running out to the car my pants legs were soaked from the driving rain.  I sat wet through the whole worship service. It rained like that for a solid hour. The first thing I did when we got home was check the fire. 


Resurrection.   It makes no sense.  It’s impossible.  That’s what makes it so cool.

And that was what I had told the high school Sunday school class that morning:  None of it made sense.  The resurrection defied logic.  The impossible is made possible through the love and power of God.  Yet that one act is what the Christian religion is based on. There is no other religion on the planet based on a resurrection.  God conquered the unconquerable, the last frontier:  death.  And God did all this just because God loves us.  Wow.

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