It is no state secret: I am 31 years old and smitten with marshmallow Peeps.
Before the chicks went on tour year-round, signing pumpkins and snowpeople onto their act, spring was the one season that these sugared beauties made a showing. And there was something sacred in this, something symbolic. Something decidedly, deliciously, Easter.
I’ve been thinking about it, this idea of something being “decidedly Easter.” There’s the bunny-man at the mall, sure, and Cadbury Cream Eggs. Bonnets and ruffles and gingham. Jelly beans. And yesterday, Sid the Science Kid aired its Easter special, the one where teacher Susie leads the 4-year-olds on a rock hunt around the playground. Tuckered out, the kids plop down and paint daisies on their stones, a small nod to spring. And then the episode sputters to a stop. Easter, it seems, is just a proxy; a cute little op for teaching the three families of rock: igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary.
Later that night, my husband and I are pushing grilled chicken and sweet potato around our plates, and I look up.
“What do you think of, when I say Easter?” I ask. “Don’t overthink, just quick, what sort of images, symbols? Don’t say Peeps.”
He shrugs. “I don’t know, maybe a rock rolled away?”
And I think of Sid and his stones, and shake my head.
So close, and yet, so far.
I dance too much around it, maybe; I am politically polite, so worried about pleasing. But today I feel the need to just come out and say it. To dish my faith on a plate and be the mean mom who makes you stay at the table until you take JUST ONE BITE.
Until you taste and see that Easter is not about eggs or honeyed ham or marshmallow bunnies (though those are all wonderful hangers-on); it’s about Jesus’s work dying, then rising.
Really, that’s it.
Easter is the epicenter of the Christian faith, the hinge on which all hope swings, because let’s face it: If Jesus really is who he says he is, and really did what history says he did…if his promises can be cashed at the bank and eternity tendered to those who put blind belief in him…then doesn’t that just upside-down everything?
Doesn’t everything suddenly change?
And if we’re honest: isn’t it this change that keeps our arms always pushing him back, content, instead, to paint flowers on stones?
I am driving to the gym when the image comes to me. A veil torn.
It’s not the quintessential Easter icon, like the rolled tombstone, or blue-sashed savior, or the lilies trumpeting resurrection songs. But there it is: the temple veil, a curtain sliced clean from top to bottom.
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. And that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27: 51, 52)
You need to see this veil, because it’s important. It’s not so much a curtain as it is a wall, shielding off the most sacred spot in the Jewish temple, the Holy of Holies. Even the high priest could only enter here once each year, on the day of atonement. And even then, it was no trifling matter: the priest had to wash well, put on special clothes, create a cloud of incense to blur the sharp holy of God.
That veil? It guarded God’s dwelling place; it sealed off a perfect Father from his fallen, filthy children, and it’s such a literal picture of God’s purity, his inability to stomach our swill.
As Jesus hung on his cross—right before he hung his head and willingly gave up his spirit—he cried, “It is finished!” And that veil—which some experts say was a whole hand thick and 10-men tall—just ripped in two.
The heart of God, open to men again.
I think of Easter, and big churchy words like resurrection and salvation and forgiveness and eternity sit right there on the tip of my tongue. How do we begin to unpack them on one Sunday morning?
But maybe we don’t have to. Maybe we can just look at the veil, because it says everything.
My body, broken for you. This veil, torn for you.
Do you see it? Do you see how Easter is all about intimacy?
I need no priest besides Christ; He has brokered the deal, bridged the Grand Canyon gap between me and God. I can now talk to my Father on the way to the grocery store. I can fist-shake my prayers, bringing him my honest doubt. I will daily screw up and he’ll wash me, patiently patting me dry a thousand times, his mercies fresh as my morning coffee.
This is grace, I think, that I can walk up to God and fiercely know that He sees me scrubbed clean and set right. Not because I am, of course, but because I trust Christ to be perfect for me.
I can’t seem to shake this today. The veil’s embroidery, threads of purple, scarlet, blue, cleaved clear from top to bottom. Like gaping veins, the fabric bleeds, falling open.
There we are in Eden, doubting God is really as good as he says, thinking maybe he is holding something back.
Oh, God, the cosmic killjoy. The grand patrolman, always wanting to fence us in and clip our wings.
And we bite into this lie, regretting it instantly. We cover up, we put on clothes, we hide—and we are found out, and sent out.
There are weeds and groans and all the empty striving.
Day after day, we keep pulling on fig leaves. Sure, they’re more modern facades; maybe we hide behind fancy jobs, or a florid vocabulary, or 3D mascara, or carefully coifed Facebook timelines. The well-groomed lawn, the freshly lipsticked selfie, or the toddler who, like a good puppy, so dutifully comes when he’s called. (Usually.)
Isn’t it all just a grand game of dress up? Preschoolish pretending, trying to appear more polished than we actually are?
We want cover, we need cover. We suck it up and suck it in. We edit and skim-coat and make-believe it’s all ok.
But then there’s that veil, hanging open.
Come in, it beckons. Be known…fully known.
Do you see it? It’s an invitation back into the garden.
It’s a welcome mat shaken and spread out, begging us to taste and see and enter into a kind of life that is truly life.
So wipe your shoes, friend. Shuck your coat. The spotless lamb is bleeding, it is finally, fully finished, and God says we get to come back.
“What Adam had, and forfeited for all,
Christ keepeth now, who cannot fail or fall.”
–The Hold-Fast, George Herbert