What Comes After Easter

What Comes After Easter

Maplehurst Magnolia


On Saturday morning, Jonathan and I woke up in the dark.

I took my time peeling back the covers. I debated whether or not to change out of my pajamas. Eventually, I wrapped myself in a bathrobe and tiptoed down the stairs. Outside, I stepped into my tall, rubber gardening boots and wondered if Jonathan was inside warming his hands by the coffee maker or outside hiding eggs.

A pile of garbage bags, bright white beneath the moon, lay where they’d been tossed up the cellar steps. That was my answer.

I heaved up one of the bulging bags and began tucking cold, plastic eggs into every extra-tall tuft of grass.

The moon was bright and full, drifting behind the top of a spruce tree.

Around 6:30, I heard a whisper on the dark, “I feel like I’ve stepped into a book.”

One of our guests for the weekend, an old friend from Chicago who finished reading Roots and Sky on the flight into Philadelphia, was up and out, eager to help hide eggs.

By the time we finished, my back ached, but I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day. My fingers were stiff with cold, but the air was still and the just-rising sun promised a swift warmup. When our friend left for a jog, Jonathan and I slipped back into the kitchen for coffee, the giant pink magnolia fluttering its butterfly wings behind our backs.

“I think this will be the prettiest day we’ve ever had for the egg hunt,” I told him.


It was. The most peaceful, too.

The staggered start times for the egg hunt helped. From his perch on our stepladder, Jonathan made sure the younger hunters had found their first egg before he cried “ready, set, go” for the next group holding easter baskets and paper bags in excited hands.

Some kids found too many eggs, some found maybe not quite enough. One neighbor brought her pet bunny on a leash. Another neighbor wore full Easter Bunny costume and posed for pictures with wide-eyed kids.

I think it was the best egg hunt yet.

Now Easter has come and gone, and the world outside my window is responding with greener grass and tulip tops. The climbing rose over the vegetable garden arbor is suddenly furred with tiny leaves.


I should feel hopeful. I should rejoice. The tomb that held Jesus is empty.

But all our other tombs are not.


Neighborhood Egg Hunt 2014

Easter eggs on the lawn


By Easter morning, the golden perfection of the previous day had vanished. The sky was low and gray, and a sharp, cold breeze had penetrated the kitchen. We didn’t light a fire in the woodstove, but we thought about it.

I assumed Easter would be the climax. After months of heartache, we gathered with our friends and neighbors on a perfect spring morning. But instead, Easter itself felt anticlimactic, as if the only thing to do now was wait.


Resurrection is a great promise for tomorrow, but what about today?


I have thought about that question all week.

I thought about it while I planted out violas and alyssum in the flower garden. I started those seeds under grow lights in the basement about a month ago.

I thought about it while I sat in a chair beneath the magnolia tree. In that spot, the chickens are noisy, the cat I am allergic to insists on jumping into my lap, but the air smells like honey.

I thought about it while I spread fresh wood chips on the paths between the beds in the vegetable garden. I even thought about it when Elsa brought me a handful of daffodils. She’d picked them, “for me” she said, from beneath the baby apple trees. The stems were too short for a vase, so I tucked them into my tiniest drinking glass.

One afternoon, I pulled up a recipe for dinner on pinterest, but another of my pins caught my eye. It was a graphic my sister Kelli made for me with one of her photographs and words from an old blog post. It said:

“We are not waiting for resurrection. We are living it.”

That is the truth I’ve been searching for all week. That is the truth I’ve been living all week.

The empty tomb isn’t the end. It’s the beginning. It is new life for me, today. It is hope for this world, today.

Shawn’s death isn’t the end. Not for him. Not for those he left behind. We ache. We grieve. But already we have seen beautiful things begin to grow in the emptiness.

Spring is a perpetual season. Its eternal roots lie within the very first Easter, like the few golden daffodils I tucked into our scarred, wooden cross. Jesus was a seed, planted in death and sprouted in resurrection, and that seed has been growing ever since. Because of Jesus, the Christ, who was and is and is to come, we are living a spring with no end. – Roots and Sky


All of the photos in this post were taken by my sister, Kelli Campbell, April, two years ago.




From Where I Stand Between Winter and Spring

I spent most of Saturday outside. It looked nothing like spring, but I could feel it. By afternoon we had taken off our jackets and were warming ourselves with shovels and gardening gloves.

The firstborn and I cleared away some of the invasive (but gorgeous) vine that blankets the edge of our property.

Do you remember, I asked her, what the porcelain berries look like? Do you remember that china blue?

They looked fake, she says.

Which is true. And telling. The most beautiful things look unreal to us. Maybe they are a part of some other reality. Maybe we are too, for that matter.

The dead vines were papery and grey in our hands, but when I ripped one open we could see a shocking, acid green.

They only look dead, my daughter said with round eyes.


autumn treasure


We are in those last days of winter. Those days when the cold has moved deep into my bones, and I no longer believe in spring.

I mean this quite literally. Three days ago I had myself convinced that the bleached yellow shade of our lawn was a sign it would never turn green. We killed it, I thought. Too many weeds, too many autumn leaves, and we killed it.

Today, I noticed a spotty green haze. Just here and there. And I remembered: I have seen resurrection. There is such a thing.


Elsa in dreamland


 Six months ago, we named our daughter Elsa Spring. Soon – very soon – she will see her first spring. There are no words for all I feel about that.

Born in late summer, we named her Spring. Our last baby, our second daughter, she is yet everything new to us.

Before she was ever conceived “My beloved spoke and said to me, ‘Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come …” (Song of Songs 2: 10-12).

For a hundred and one foolish reasons I had not allowed myself to want another child, but I knew what those words meant. I bought a tiny, pink sweater, and I hid it in my dresser drawer.


Elsa in antique lace1


Sometimes winter fools us. We are taken in by the surface of things, and death seems total and irreversible.

The truth is, we aren’t waiting for resurrection. We are living it.


“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem … in summer and in winter.”

Zechariah 14:8

Advent (Day 16)


On this third Monday of Advent, a poem by one of my favorite writers, Louise Glück.

Winter can tempt us to despair. Cold, death, endless waiting. It is easy to stop believing in spring.

He did tell us how it would be. “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” he said. And he was right. The seeds of resurrection were planted in these dark days before Christmas.

Even our winters are redeemed.




          Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know

          what despair is; then

          winter should have meaning for you.


          I did not expect to survive,

          earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect

          to waken again, to feel

          in damp earth my body

          able to respond again, remembering

          after so long how to open again

          in the cold light

          of earliest spring –


          afraid, yes, but among you again

          crying yes risk joy


          in the raw wind of the new world.

                    – Louise Glück


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