In the little Lutheran Church, along a gravel road out in the middle of a cow pasture families filled the pews, back to front, to celebrate Easter. Children were dressed in new outfits, bonnets and vests, ties and frills. They sat next to grandmothers shushing their excited squeals and helped put money in the offering plate.
I stood next to Pops at the front of the church as he played guitar and I sang a song I’ve been singing since I was a little girl. My best friend was baptizing her new baby that day and she asked for a special song.
I hadn’t sung in this little church since I was ten years old.
The girl who grew up down the road from me, who went to a country school with me, who traveled to High School Rodeos and could relate to what it meant to be the middle sister, the blonde girl who grew up and moved away, came home for the holiday and she was sitting in the front row with her two little girls.
Behind them, wrangling three young boys in matching flannel shirts, was one of Husband’s best friends.
And then there were the little neighbor girls, all tall and grown up and beautiful. There was their dad, a little more gray in his hair.
There they all were, really, my community gathered on a spring morning that felt like spring. A spring morning that had the birds singing and the baby calves bucking and kicking, the horses basking in the warmth of it all.
Easter, the pastor said, is a time to start again. The promise of a new season. A second chance.
It made sense to me then that we would celebrate a baptism on that day, a baptism of a child that is hope and prayers answered personified.
It made sense that we passed two new baby calves, still wet out of the womb, on the road on the way to the church.
It made sense then that we were granted some sunshine and a place to gather with family and friends we’ve known all of our lives. So many they had to bring out the folding chairs.
So many familiar faces, growing up and growing old and still sticking with this place.
Still coming back to the broken up fields and this old church.
And I remember when I was the girl in the Easter hat, a little girl standing up before the congregation with my hands behind my back and singing out.
I remember what it was like when my legs didn’t touch the floor, but dangled there off of the hard pew, kicking and wiggling with excitement about the fun waiting for me and my cousins when the sermon wrapped up and the clusters of adults lost in conversation and laughter and church basement coffee had broken up and disassembled to their respective homesteads where they would conduct their own Easter traditions.
Ours was the annual Easter Egg Hunt, one that took us across dangerous barbed wire fences, in the dark depths of the old barn and the grain bins, to the top of muddy gumbo hills where the crocuses were working on blooming, and then down again to get stuck in that mud, tear our Easter dresses and count and sort our candy on carpet of our gramma’s tiny living room.
These were our traditions out here, out here by the red barn when we were all together and young, without a care in the world, no worries about time and what we could lose, who we could lose between all the Easter sunrises and sunsets.
It’s been almost 20 years since our last Veeder Ranch egg hunt, almost 20 years since we continued the tradition a little further south to my aunt and uncle’s farmstead with the white barn and the neat corrals.
And then there was a space there where we found we were, all at the same time, too old and too young for egg hunts.
But time is a funny and magical thing. If you wait long enough it will turn those kids in Easter bonnets into mothers and fathers of children whose legs dangle off church pews in anticipation…and we are the ones who go “shush, child. Shhhh now…”
We turn into the Easter Bunny…
And all old things are new again…
Coming Home: Childhood Easter egg hunts helped us find more than candy
by Jessie Veeder