Over spring break, my mom and I took my kids to the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco. We had a great morning, strolling around, enjoying the beautiful spring weather and engaging in the great conversations originating in the young minds of my three kids. While we were there, I was struck by a specific moment when we walked up to the giraffe display. I think giraffes to be some of the most incredible animals in the world. They’re unique and interesting, they’re truly unlike any other creature, and they’re beautiful, but also kind of weird. They seem powerful, not in a fear-inducing way, while at the same time, gentle and meek. The zoo has three giraffes and while my mom and I ooh’d and ahh’d over the magnificent creatures, I noticed my three children doing very different things.
One of them was struck by the blackbird that had just landed about five feet in front of us on the other side of the barrier. This child was looking in the right direction, but instead of looking past the bird to see the magnificent creature behind it, was marveling at a common blackbird. This bird wasn’t part of the zoo exhibit. He’d just flown in by mistake and probably wasn’t planning to stay. There were ten others just like him in the parking lot.
Another child was engrossed in the zoo map. The map had numbers on it that identified each animal exhibit and this child was furiously trying to figure out which number belonged to this exhibit. The giraffes were interesting, but almost an afterthought to the interest found in accomplishing this map task.
And the last child was busy bouncing around, break dancing and balancing “tight-rope style” on the curb just in front of the barrier fence.
Not one of them was engaged with the actual animal on display. Not one of them was marveling at the right thing.
One was easily distracted by the wrong animal.
Another was focused on the road map.
And the other was more interested in personal self-produced stimulation and entertainment.
I worked hard to write all of that without using any pronouns. Because it doesn’t matter which kid was doing which thing. What matters is that I feel like we all tend to do one of these three things when it comes to approaching Easter.
Easter is the best day ever.
It’s the best day in all of human history.
It’s not just another holiday on the calendar. Even though I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Easter falls right after the holiday where we identify and celebrate true love. I actually really love thinking of Valentines Day as a precursor to Easter, to prepare us to receive the greatest love of all time.
There’s all kinds of ways to celebrate Easter, and there are so many fun ways to engage your children with this holiday. And to be clear, I’m not talking about celebrating spring.
We also LOVE celebrating spring in our house.
We love painting eggs and hunting for them. We love painting carrots and making bunny crafts with pipe cleaner whiskers and baby chicks with tiny handprints as wings. We love planting new leafy sprouts in our edible garden. We love backyard picnics for lunch because the weather is just TOO GOOD.
Celebrating spring is fun and exciting and wonderful. Celebrating Easter is holy.
If we truly believe that Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus, and we believe that Jesus is who he says he was, then Easter is the most radical and unbelievable event in human history. If we believe that a substitution was made on our behalf, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus gives us freedom from our faults, our shortcomings and our shame, then yes, Easter is hands down, the BEST. DAY. EVER.
So to those of you who believe this…or want to believe it…what are you marveling at on Easter?
Are you marveling at the blackbird? The common thing that’s not worthy of your worship?
Are you too busy reading some kind of map and trying to make sure that you’re “enough” in every area of your life? Smart enough. Good enough. Are you distracted by a list of self-imposed rules and checklists, and busying yourself with good deeds, all the while, forgetting to marvel?
Or are you distracted, too busy entertaining yourself to truly sit and marvel at the foot of the cross of Jesus? Are you spinning in circles and performing tricks to keep the focus on yourself, your family or your job, or just putting your best foot forward?
There are all kinds of fun ways to teach your kids about Easter. I personally love these, this and doing a Sedar Meal. We tell the kids how Jesus took the Jewish Passover meal and radically changed it into what Christians now call Communion or the Lord’s Supper. Every year, we make unleavened bread (it’s super easy…recipe here) as a first step to that meal.
But friends, I truly believe that the greatest way that we can teach our kids about Easter starts with us.
I think when they see us marvel at the Cross of Jesus, they’ll start to understand. Kids are smart. They know when we’re putting on a show or when we’re truly and deeply enamored and captivated by something that we love. When we look up at the hypothetical giraffe, and put down the map, stop dancing around and take our eyes off of the blackbird right in front of us and we marvel at the beauty of Easter, we are teaching them that Easter truly is the Best. Day. Ever.