I know it's a bit early, but today I have Easter on my mind! I have it on my mind because I have Jacob and Emily on my mind, and I'm sure you can figure out why that leads me to thoughts of Easter. (:
When asked my favorite holiday, I've always gone back and forth between Easter and Christmas, usually with Easter prevailing. (: There are many reasons that I adore Easter. I love to color eggs. I love the happy, optimistic feeling that comes with Spring. I love the Easter bunny and the fun little gifts he leaves me! I love love love our annual tradition of going "Eastering." For those of you not blessed enough to know what Eastering is, let me fill you in! Eastering denotes: camping in the beautiful Utah desert with your entire extended (think about 200) family, going rapelling and four-wheeling, singing around campfires, hunting for Easter eggs and arrowheads, games with all of your cousins, exploring, rolling eggs down the hills (signifying the stone being rolled from the sepluchre), stories and testimonies, catching up with beloved family, braving the wind, and getting very, very dirty. Food must include: scotcheroos, dutch oven chicken, sticky rice with mango, Diane's cheesecake, toasted English muffins with eggs and bacon, hoagies, puffed wheat balls, and handfuls from Grandma's bowl of Easter candy-- but also may, of course, include various other delicious dishes. The campfire isn't complete without "Here Comes Elmer," "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?," "I Am a Child of God," "Peter Cottontail," and "The Other Day I Met a Bear." Ah.... Good times, good times.
But I love Easter the most because of what it represents.
An empty tomb.
A risen Lord.
I was so blessed to have the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad in the Holy Land. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was able to walk the shores of Galilee, sing Christmas songs on the hills overlooking Bethlehem, climb Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise, kneel in the Garden of Gethsemane, sing hymns in an "upper room" dating to the time of Christ, wade in the waters of Jordan, walk the road to Jericho, and much, much more. All of those places were sacred, yes. But my most favorite place to visit, and I went there often, was the Garden Tomb. In fact, many Sabbath mornings you could find me there, with my roommates or friends, studying our scriptures and basking in the Spirit that was there. I think the thing that I loved about it the most, was the peaceful JOY that was found within its walls. There was so much JOY there!! (: (: (:
I remember well the first time that I went to the Garden Tomb. We were laughing and chatting, my friends and I, as we walked along the streets to the entrance. But the second we stepped inside the garden walls, we were immediately subdued. The sacredness inside was felt by all. It was such a stark contrast to what was felt just outside its walls. I walked inside the tomb itself with these friends. We stood there for a minute in silence, until one of the guys started singing, "I Know that My Redeemer Lives." We all joined in, tears pouring down our cheeks, and the Spirit that permeated that tomb was tangible beyond words. It was one of the most reverent, sacred moments of my life.
I know He lives.
And because He lives, Jacob and Emily live.
And Elli and Lexi will see. And Sophi will put her arms around me. And Graci and Xander will run with ease. And all of my children will be eternally gathered in my arms.
And that is why I love Easter.
(If you double click, you can get the full picture)