Introduced By Holly King
Happy Easter! Immediately (after images of chocolate and bunnies with baskets of pastel-coloured eggs), I thought back to this time last year. Write On! Extra was in its infancy and my fourth Monday Moments page went up on Easter Monday 2020. Who could have predicted the following 12 months? Who can predict the next?
Easter is an odd holiday for me. I don’t eat chocolate (hold your applause), and I’m not religious; so, for me, it’s always been about family. Getting together for a big meal with my parents and siblings and, recently, seeing Easter through the eyes of my little niece and nephew. Now that we’ve been unable to do that for two years straight, what other point is there to Easter for a chocolate-abstaining, non-religious adult?
This has been in my thoughts through the past month, and never more so than when I’m taking my daily walk, which includes a small church and graveyard. Recently, as I’ve been walking, I’ve heard the elated cries of the primary school children across the road. I’ve always thought that graveyards retain silence, a stillness, regardless of where they are (i.e., right next to the main road, a train stop and a primary school). On the days I hear the plimsole slaps on the tarmac and the high-pitched exclamations of children playing stuck-in-the-mud, I’ve thought about how this spring is bringing with it more life, and how life cannot be removed, even from a yard of graves. The birds still chirp in the trees shading the tombstones, the squirrels still scurry across the beds, the children can still be heard; their voices carrying over into the quiet air. None of this unsettles the atmosphere; instead, the sounds harmonise.
Because life persists (rather than death creeps in), and when you look at graveyards, there is a lot of life in them. Trees, shrubs, the birds and the bees; even the tokens of remembrance people lay at their relatives’ graves signal life continuing. And what of the graves themselves? They never remain straight. Headstones are unsettled, beds are raised or collapsed. Nature reaches out roots underneath and welcomes the residents back into her soil – the lifeblood of the earth.
So, when I thought about Easter and the resurrection story, I realised I do believe in resurrection. I believe in life-restoring; even in a place reserved for the already dead. I believe resurrection comes in indirect forms and throughout our lives. We have all felt entombed, and whether three days or three years, we have risen and been able to move the heavy stone that once blocked us. What once crucified us now becomes our symbol of strength. We just cannot dictate how long it takes us, or another, to return.
Of course, to onlookers it may seem miraculous, or it may seem incomprehensible and incite fear, hatred or even blind devotion, but we have all been resurrected before, and we can continue with commitment.
Sometimes, we are weighed down by the literal and dismiss anything else as untrue. If we cannot literally raise the dead, then resurrection is a term used only in fiction and has little meaning. However, nothing stays the same forever. Spring will eventually lead to winter, then turn into a new spring. The children in the playground will grow older and be replaced by their own children. The chirping birds will add their offspring to the melodies we hear up high. Nature will reclaim us, welcoming our bodies into the earth, where new grass will grow. There are differences, but there is always a spring, always children, always life; just not in the form of the ‘I’ we are attached to.
Resurrection is change. It is the choice to live and step outside of the tombs we encase ourselves in. It is the persistence of the human spirit. It is growth, dedication; the force against all darkness, terror and finality, and we can see it everywhere. From the tiniest shoot growing at an impossible angle to reach the sun to reconnecting with someone after years of silence, to holding yourself accountable, standing your ground even when scared, believing in something higher than yourself, and being creative. Without creativity, we would not have been able to create anything. From nappies to novels, portaloos to paintings, microscopes to music. Even this introduction, while not a traditional story or a poem, is creative writing.
So, this Easter Monday, look back on how you have grown from last spring to this one and see the ways in which you rose and were creative in difficult times. Realise the different, imaginative ways that life persists when faced with obstacles, and how we can support this more. Above all, go be creative, and celebrate Easter, no matter your faith. Because I believe, at its core, Easter is a celebration of life persisting, and the sublime strength of the human spirit.
This Monday, I’ve asked contributors to bring all of that onto my page. As I can’t see my niece and nephew this year, I started at home and asked them to help out. Here are Harvey (seven) and Daisy’s (three) Easter drawings.
Also demonstrating their creativity with this theme is Lexi Baxter, who is extremely talented at 12 years old.
After that injection of colour, Claire Buss shows how adults, with some creativity, instil Easter magic.
Where does the Easter bunny live, Mummy?
Why, on Easter Island, of course. He’s guarded
there by the giant statues of Moai. Grim-faced
and determined not to share their secrets.
How does the Easter bunny make all the chocolate eggs, Mummy?
Careful now, tread on eggshells, consider the answer carefully.
This is cannon.
The bunny is magical, my child; everything happens with magic.
You just have to believe and then the magic works.
Like the tooth fairy, Mummy? And Father Christmas?
Yes! Relief floods as established lore can be used to cement reasons why.
Childhood innocence is too precious to ruin with
tired Mummy forgetfulness and failure that seems to dog every step.
Wonder must be cared for and guarded fiercely. The neighbour helps.
He is planning a secret Easter bunny doorstep drop.
The kindness of strangers a thousand-fold as he’ll buy chocolate eggs
and bunnies for my children, left in a basket with no note.
Magic confirmed. Wonder built. Innocence saved.
For one more year.
Next question. Mummy, how long was I a star before I was born?
© Claire Buss, 2021
Now, Eithne Cullen reminisces about a past Easter, reminding us that experiences with our families beats chocolate – but it’s best when you can have both!
How To Suck Eggs
Ian took a Crème Egg from the basket, where they were brightly piled in their colourful foil wrappers.
“Nanna,” he said, “watch this.”
She watched, intently, as he peeled the wrapper from the egg. The Cadbury’s chocolate gleamed in the light of the sunny Easter Sunday afternoon. She watched. So did everyone else at the table. We’d had a leisurely Easter lunch on this perfect, warm, spring day. Now, settled in the dreamy after-lunch time, we were drinking coffees, finishing our wine.
Around the garden there was plenty of laughter, as some of the cousins enjoyed a hula-hoop challenge, while others played an enthusiastic game of swingball. Nanna had had her turn, too; she always took part eagerly, whatever the activity – despite the fact that this time, she was still in her slippers.
Now, she sat, obediently, and watched as Ian bit into the chocolate shell. The filling was deliciously sticky and he plunged his tongue into it, scooping out the white and yellow eggy mess and savouring the sweetness. There was a hush around him. He carried on, till all that was left was the empty chocolate shell.
He looked up, proud of himself, enjoying the theatrical atmosphere.
“And that,” he announced, “is teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs.”
© Eithne Cullen, 2021
Next month, it’s ‘National Share A Story Month’ and my theme will focus on Myths, Magic and Mayhem. Submit your short stories, articles, poems and art to me, via email@example.com
Don’t forget, Issue 7 of Write On! magazine is out now. Read it online here.
Resurrection is change. It is the choice to live and step outside of the tombs we encase ourselves in. It is the persistence of the human spirit. It is growth, dedication; the force against all darkness, terror and finality, and we can see it everywhere.