It’s a tough holiday. It isn’t that expectations run high. Right from the get-go, the beginning of the religious story, expectations were troubled, running low, if anything. And then the surprise. Not like Christmas adventure where from the outset there was nothing but surprise.
Maybe it’s all the gore and heartbreak the story must traverse before the holiday itself. How is my neighborhood supposed to do business, run and attend bars and drugstores and sandwich shops on Good Friday? Or should the sinister stuff of Spy Wednesday, Thursday’s prediction of betrayal over such a grand and sacred dinner, and then the bloody chaos of Friday be dwelt on at all? Is there not salvific distraction in preparing for the calendar’s admittedly charming call for the celebration of spring? How else understand the Sunday morning romp through gardens discovering among the natural blooming surprises some not-so natural wonders? The near-comic misplacement of pastel-colored eggs, themselves so tangent to the cycle of new life, delights—almost because of the incongruity. Just about liturgically, the adventure of an Easter egg continues on through Easter week: it must be cared for, peeled, perhaps worked into another setting or at least a lunch sack. And then, nobly, it gets on with its humble gift to life.
The cultural conflation of secular and sacred understandings of the pinnacle of Christian feasts has been illuminated and tortured enough to fill plenty of library shelves. Christ’s relationship to a rabbit that lays eggs just has to command commentary. (As should a Jewish youngster’s Easter questions after her own celebration of once being preferred enough to be passed-over.) It’s all territory as old as it is awkward.
So imagine my one-time clown/one-time priest’s reaction to a wall direction in the lobby of my apartment building. It’s Good Friday morning—always as tenuous for me as it was at the beginning. (What the hell does Good mean? Okay. Okay. I know the story turns out good.) There right next to the manager’s office door is a dark brown, woven-fibered cross, fittingly somber. And (I kid you not) fastened to the length and breadth of it where usually you see fastened . . .are a dozen pastel-colored and party-speckled eggs. Forget iconology and theology and the too-easily rendered exegeses. It was aesthetically damned ugly. There was no beauty there for any beholder’s eye.—The manager was out.
Mercifully an office attendant quietly removed the eggs and put them in an Easter decoration elsewhere in the room. The lone somber cross now allowed us all clear breathing.
As I write, I haven’t yet found my way downstairs. I have found my retired clown/priest’s hesitant way to an Easter morning prayer. “Good Christ, please don’t suffer those God-forsaken eggs to be replaced this morning!”--Now I’ll get on with the new part of my life that hasn’t happened yet.
[Sunday evening: The eggs have not been replaced.] “Amen!”