While thoughts are full these days of spring's arrival, as we long to bid farewell to winter and as we dream of sunny days of warmth and colour, we also are looking forward to a rather significant holiday. In just a short time, it will be Easter, perhaps the most meaningful event on the Christian calendar. It is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, held on the Sunday following Good Friday, the acknowledgement of his crucifixion.
As a child growing up in an indisputably more conservative society than that of today, in a modest town in the middle of a rural community, you can well be assured that my religious upbringing was going to be thorough. My father was the Sunday School superintendent and church elder. My mom was a busy member of the women's league, and both of my older siblings taught Sunday School. All of them, at some point, sang in the choir, while I lent my alto to the junior version.
Missing a Sunday service was not an option and the Lenten calendar of events was well covered, with mandatory attendance at church on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday, on Good Friday and Easter morning.
While most of these were hours of sombre reflection, for a tiny child the latter provided the opportunity to don new spring duds. Each year, Mom would treat us with outfits that epitomized the words 'Sunday best'. The new dress in a pastel hue, the straw bonnet with silk ribbon and matching purse, the patent leather shoes, white socks and light coat were repeated annually with a modicum of distinction from the ones that went before.
We always felt pretty fancy, though, full of springtime cheer.
Beyond that little bit of frivolity, however, the remainder of the day was focussed on the spiritual. Sunday School was separate from the service, so the children of the congregation got a double helping of the holiday's importance. I remember struggling to sit still through the minister's sermon, the words often lost on one so small. The message from my parents, that fidgeting would not be tolerated, on the other hand, came through loud and clear. This reflection in church on Sundays was always serious business, but during the Easter season, tomfoolery would not be tolerated.
So, suffice it to say that while a chocolate bunny must have come my way as a treat — though I don't remember one — the essence of the season was steeped in faith. Despite the highlight of that new Easter outfit, the only other certainty back then, was that the good old bunny would be getting very little consideration. Its role in the occasion was barely acknowledged.
Regardless of where I stand with my beliefs now, I respect those who have strong faith. For any of them who might be looking for Easter illustration that will reflect their Christian faith, rather than the commercial fun, here are excellent collections reflecting diverse artistic styles: