We just spent a fantastic, exhausting weekend visiting with my sister and her family out of town.
We dyed a few eggs.
We celebrated my niece’s sixth birthday, singing to her at least three times. We fasted on Friday, feasted on birthday cake on Saturday, and the cousins played nonstop from dawn to dusk all weekend.
And Leo and Daniel, who adore their cousins and their extensive collection of books and toys, savored every waking moment and collapsed into bed every night.
When we planned to spend Easter weekend away from home, I had worried that we might lose track of reflecting on Jesus’ suffering, death, and rising with all the fun chaos. But John and I decided we would go and make the best of it—and let the children enjoy their cousins.
And they certainly did.
This morning—after the six children marched down the steps to dig into their Easter baskets—it was time to say goodbye. On our way home John and I took two tired, happy, overstimulated, and candy-fed boys to Mass at a lovely stone church in Westchester County, N.Y.
It felt so good to sing “Alleluia.” Daniel was squirmy, but he also looked around the church and then asked, “Where is Jesus dying on the cross?”
I missed some of the priest’s homily as we juggled the boys on our laps, but one moment I will remember was that when the priest said, “And then Jesus rose again,” Leo bolted up on my lap and whispered loudly, “What?”
At 5, Leo knows that is the reason for Easter. Really, he does. But for children there is this sense that everything is new. It’s why they can read The Little Engine That Could 1,000 times and still be just as excited when the train reaches the top of the mountain for the thousandth time.
It’s why every time 3-year-old Daniel watches Lightning McQueen speed around the track, he’s on the edge of the couch.
I should try to find that same sense of discovery in rejoicing over Jesus’ resurrection every Easter.
After Mass, we climbed into our car and headed for home.
On our way down the New Jersey Turnpike, we stopped at a rest area to eat lunch. Afterward, as we were walking to our car, with the wind whipping around us, and the cars speeding past on the highway, Daniel—who is always looking for a reason to run—yelled, “Run for your lives!”
Then Leo yelled it, too.
I laughed. “How many lives do we have, anyway?” I said.
And Leo got serious.
“Actually, Mama, we have two lives,” he said. “We have the one when we are born, and then when we die and go to heaven, we have another one when we rise again.”
I was so astonished that after we climbed into the car, I asked him to tell his father what he had just said. And he did.
Maybe the reason for Easter didn’t get lost in the piles of jellybeans and plastic grass after all.
Alleluia! He is risen!