Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter, I LOVE You. Your Friend, Robynn

Tomorrow is Easter. And it always brings memories flooding in. Happy ones. I don't remember anything bad ever happening on Easter.

Our home was broken and not in a way marked simply by divorce. There was so much wrong it would never be righted. But there were also moments when the gears of life clicked into place with a steady, smooth sound; the kind of sound you hear when a roller coaster climbs its ascents and you get to lean back, catch your breath, and listen to the rhythmic ticking before the next plummeting rush.

Easter was always an ascent day. And our little white clapboard Baptist church was the anchor that held me fast. It was a constant for me in a teetering world. Most of the people who showed up on Sunday, or for special events, weren't the same people living life in the world the rest of the week. They put on their Sunday best. And I loved to lose myself in the perfection of it. I was unable to discern duplicity. It would be years before I would watch many of the congregants go down in flames, devastate the innocent, or walk away from the faith. I knew little, acknowledged less, and was happy for it while I was there.

Children have a marvelous way of compartmentalizing. And life got locked outside the big double doors of the church. MIne was a world of tight bodices and full, calico skirts filled with the perfume of being freshly dried in the sun. Safe skirts. Skirts I could hide behind when people spoke to me; a bastion to peer around and retreat into.

And on Easter, our hands were afforded the luxury of silky smooth cotton gloves, stitched with delicious raised seams that followed each finger. I don't remember a defining word spoken from the pulpit but my finger would follow the road map of those seams while the preacher delivered. And when I clapped my hands together it gave a sound like very distant muffled thunder. The crisp report my hands usually provided was gone and I was left with this enticingly muted percussion.

Most Sundays I occupied myself with careful examination of my mother's fingernails during the sermon. I occasionally grew too twitchy and fidgety. That would be followed by the brisk walk of shame down the center aisle and past the watching faces, as my mother hauled me behind the church for a sound spanking. She worried very much that people would think she was a bad mother for having children who did not sit still or were uncontrolled. The irony of trying to sit still on a stinging bottom occupied my ponderings. But I never got a spanking on Easter.

Our mornings always began in the dark, reaching for Easter baskets set out the night before. It was positively magical to think you could set this empty receptacle beside your bed and then wake up to find it filled with candy, and maybe that coveted box containing a hollow, chocolate rabbit. The childish holy grail. We would dress quickly in warm clothing and pile into the car, three children clutching Easter baskets in a death grip, and drive through the darkness many miles to a river.

Grandma Miller, as the whole congregation called her, lived on bottom land near the banks of the San Joaquin river, in a little ramshackle house accessed by a long winding, dirt road. Age-weary and sagging barbed wire fences flanked both sides as we motored slowly down, car lights piercing the dust the cars kicked up. On Easter Sundays she offered up her land and her grove of Eucalyptus trees at the river's edge as a backdrop for our Sunrise Service. We could count on doughnuts and hot chocolate to fortify and warm us after the preaching. Until then we blew warm breath into our cupped hands and stamped our feet. An old wooden picnic table that claimed its permanent residence among the towering forest, guarded our food and Easter baskets as we piled them on top of it. These had to come along for shared excitement with other lucky souls.

As we gathered by the river, a quiet hymn or two would usher in the early light. Rocks and bushes and fine details on the leaves would slowly creep into view. The quiet traveling of the water and the occasional snap of a twig lulled me in the reverent morning air. The preacher would tell the story, once again, of finding the empty tomb where they had laid the body of Jesus and about his victory over death. I would rock on my heels and try to focus. The sun would peek over the edge of the horizon and send a million glittering crystals dancing down the river on top of the water. That cocoon of beauty and wonder would stay with me for life and be inextricably woven in with the Resurrection.

When we headed for home the outfitting would begin. New dresses, frilly socks (for me), gloves and hats, white patent leather shoes. Some attempt would be made to comb my wild and unruly hair and force it into submission, if only for a few hours. Curly, wispy hair always framed my face and drove my mother to distraction. My hair made her insane. (Well, there were a few other contributing factors.) But I loved all the pomp and circumstance and felt oh-so-beautiful for a day. One Easter, when I was eight, my mother even made us all matching dresses. (My brother opted out.) I was so excited I refused to go to bed the night before Easter when she was still sewing at the dining room table. Dinner was understandably late and I gave up and fell asleep with my face in my empty plate. I slept great and loved looking like everything was perfect the next day.

In reality, the two years before had been filled with a remarriage and annulment (he was a homosexual seeking cover), more violence, a fourteen-year-old brother sent to juvenile hall, a desperately troubled sister, three more moves, three changes of schools, loss of pets and friends, and more sexual abuse. But this was a space between those things and there were other spaces like this, and they were magnificent. And I lived for them.

And somehow the truth and beauty of what was real in the meaning of Easter permeated my heart. And it removed me and saved me from the craziness of my world. I developed some pretty strange ideas about God and I had been taught to be afraid of him. But through it all the truth burrowed itself into my being, and clung to me, and refused to be uprooted by the evidence of distortion around me. Years later it would reveal itself to me having shed the cocoon of twistedness. And I spread my wings and soared with it.

And at Easter I am once again reminded of the gladness and hope this day always brought me as a child. I keep it like a treasure and am grateful beyond description for the hope it offered, for my rebirth in Christ, for children to love, nurture and learn from, and for a heart of joy.

Happy Easter, my dear friends. May you be filled with wonder and blessings afresh when the sun peeks over your horizon tomorrow morning and brings you the promise of Easter.

With Love,


This isn't me but the period is the same, except for the short, straight hair we look identical, and the photo just captured a certain feel I loved.

Copyright 2009


  1. Oh Robynn, This was just magical... and I thank you for sharing it with us.

    It's Easter Sunday here today and I'm already dressed and waiting for the sun to peek over the horizon... and bring that message of fulfillment and promise to me, once again.

    Have a Joyous and Blessed Easter my friend!


  2. You wax eloquent...perhaps you should write from your serious side more frequently? This was incredibly moving, Robynn! Beautiful...just like you! Happy Easter, my friend! ~Janine XOXO

  3. You amaze me! I know you will say it's the work of the Father in you. But there are many who choose bitterness instead of joy.

    Praying you and your family have another blessed and magical Easter together.


  4. Some days I could gush and gush about how you just shared your heart. Today I am deeply honored, and humbled by it and it has rendered me reaching for words. Where do I get in line for your book? You ARE writing a book, right? This was achingly beautiful.

    That is a POWERFUL piece of writing. Please share more with us. Happy, Happy Easter, with love to you and yours!

  5. Just beautiful Robynn. I felt like I was there with you.

    We attended Good Friday services last night. To see images of our Saviour being so brutally broken and beaten is so difficult, but we are also promised of new hope and rebirth because "Sunday's a comin"!

  6. I shouldn't have read others comments first before writing my own... I now feel I cannot say with any eloquence or ?? intensity what I would like to Vicky said I so well...and I agree with Sniffles and Smiles... your "serious" side is quite moving. For that's where I got teary... for knowing what we can be, for all that we've been (through), namely YOU... and Sheryl is right too- many do choose bitterness. I do wish you a blessed Easter. Thank you for all you give.

  7. I agreee with all the comments ahead of mine,.... and yes, there WILL be a book? Your writing whether in a humorous or serious vein is excellent! Your blog always leaves me wanting more,... just another paragraph, maybe two? Oh, that's the end! Drats! Best wishes to you and yours my blog-land friend, for another happy Easter!

  8. You continue to amaze me. Happy Easter!

  9. So beautiful, as always. Blessings to you and your family this Easter.

  10. Robynn, beautiful for a tragic story. My your good memories last forever!

  11. Robynn that was a wonderfully told story from your heart. I can feel your moments and appreciated the candor of your Easters. I am so glad you have claimed the good out of all your troubles, as many people can not. You are blessed, that is for sure!

    Happy Easter. :)

  12. Blessings of joy and peace,to you, dear and always.

  13. What a beautiful post...your writing is so rhythmic, so moving. Have a wonderful Easter.

  14. This is so beautiful! It reminds me of my grandmother. Although you're nowhere near her age, her childhood sounds very, very similar to yours, with the exception of the moves - she grew up in the backwoods of Alabama, and moved only once, when her father left her mother with more than half a dozen children at home.

    Thank you for painting this picture. I lost my grandmother last Fall, and I like to remember her in a beautiful Easter Frock, eating donuts on Easter morning with the rest of her Baptist congregation.

  15. As always, you are MUCH loved, and your writing is thoroughly admired and appreciated! I am thrilled. May you dance with joy this Easter! ~Janine XO
    P.S. I wrote you an email!

  16. Lovely, Robynn, just lovely. Happy Easter!

  17. Lovely posting for Easter Robynn. Thank you for sharing deeply of yourself and the Redeeming Love of our Saviour.
    A Joyous and Blessed Easter to you and your family.

  18. Thank you for sharing with us. "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Ps 107:9 - a grammy

  19. Dear Friend,

    Happy Easter to you ... we share more than you will ever know. I am usually able to lock the sad and hurtful memories away ... your very eloquent message touched my heart and for that I thank you. This Easter morning I am filled with the love, promise and hope given to us unconditionally. A very blessed Easter to you and yours.

  20. oh precious sister...thank you SO much for sharing so deeply from your heart....May God be gracious to you this Holy Season and bless you and make His face shine upon you now and always,,you and yours..amen amen amen

  21. Surrounded by noisy family and needs... but loved your post... the son peeped over the horizon for us here today... isn't life blessed and wonderful. Much love. X

  22. Happy Easter to you too, my friend!

  23. I'm sorry I didn't get to reading your post before you and Hannah came over for lunch - or we could have talked about it in person (tho you write so wonderfully that I like to just sit with the "feel" of it... what would I "say" about it?). It was wonderful to share the day - and laugh - and laugh - and look at our "12 minutes worth" of photos! Happy Birthday, Hannah -- and a blessed Easter to all of you.

  24. I like the thought of having your easter basket next to your bed. Ours were always set up in the living room when we woke up.

  25. Rob, God has done a great work in you and isn't done yet! What a blessing your candidness is. We had a great Easter celebration. I have decided it's my favorite holiday that we celebrate at church...all about new beginnings. I hope yours was blessed too with your WONDERFUL family. We love you all!

  26. Robynn,
    What a poignant post! Yet so positive! God has blessed you with a gift for writing. Your story needs to be told--it offers hope to so many others who have lived through similar circumstances. I'm already in line--money in hand--for when your book comes off the press!

    Blessings, dear friend!

  27. Oh Robynn - what a magical way with words you have. You captured the excitement and desperation of your childhood. A childhood of happiness in the pauses and much sadness every where else.

    Thank you for sharing.

  28. That was absolutely beautiful. I wish I had read it before Easter, although it was a great way to put it to bed! Your description of the Sunrise Service beat any picture out there. Isn't God good to give us some moments of reprieve along the way. I could just picture you sitting in church. Thank you for sharing this, it warmed my heart. love you dear

  29. I'm rather speechless. I know that many of us have stories to tell, some more painful than others. What makes yours so special is that you found and held onto beauty in yours. You grew from it, and your telling of it brought such glory to God.

    I guess I wasn't so speechless after all. ;-)

  30. Beautiful blog. It touched my heart.

  31. I have been behind in keeping up and apologize ...

    This is an amazing post .. thank you for sharing it ... I am glad Easter remains untainted ...

  32. Robynn, thank you so much for the comment left on my blog this morning. I can SO relate to this beautiful post. The truth has also been revealed to me and thank God, I've come out of the cocoon!

  33. I am over from your comment at David's Sunday Roast. Yours is a great post, and you are a gifted writer.
    Will be back to read more, if I may.