The Child in Us
“Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” —Mark 10:15-16.
I was born on Easter Sunday. My name is Joanna. My parents had intended to name me Jo Anna after my mother’s parents, Joe and Anna. Before my mother woke up from her anesthesia at my birth, my father put Jo and Anna together and added in a middle name, Marie. This is a statement about my parents’ relationship, which most probably began before my birth. Marie was my father’s favorite sister who was married the day before I was born. My father missed most of the wedding celebration because of my impending arrival, so I guess I was his wedding present to his sister!
The first Easter I remember is in a picture that I keep as a sacred reminder on my desk. It was taken the Easter before my brother was born, so I must have been barely two years old. I am standing in front of our first house by the Mattaponi River at the corner of Second and Lee Streets. The screened-in front porch is in the background with maybe an Easter basket on it. There is a scruffy shrub to my right side. My head barely reaches the floor of the screened-in porch. The small photograph is in black and white, and the silver from the photograph has transformed the clear plastic cover over the years to a grayish yellow color, leaving parts of the picture mystically missing. Other parts are without as much light, giving the photograph an overall Easter film noir look.
I think the woven brimmed hat I have on is white with a black ribbon around it. My memory is that the coat I am wearing is a light pink wool with fake pockets and big buttons. The coat falls not quite evenly just above my knees. I am sure that one of my sweet grandmothers made my Easter coat. My left shoulder looks slightly higher than the right. The tips of my hands are barely seen, sheltered under the coat as my arms hang straight, almost at attention by my side.
I am wearing a little homemade corsage on my left lapel. I cannot make out the flower, but I think it may be a small rose. Circling my neck and overlapping the coat is a ruffled white collar with a small black bow that must be the top of my homemade dress, which is otherwise in secret beneath my coat. I cannot see my feet, but my legs are looking good. My eyes are wide open and my straight blonde hair has been curled, most probably with toilet paper the night before. I have a look of serene panic on my face as if I do not know what will happen next, but I will be ready.
This picture depicts for me my inner child. I long to meet her once again someday. For right now I keep her by my side always on my desktop right next to my Apple. I am seeking to let her know that all is well, and that no harm will come to her. It is Easter, a celebration of new life overcoming death. She will never ever be abandoned again.
We will go shopping for her new Easter outfit. I will tell her the Easter story and remind her how much she is loved. I will bring her flowers, violets or tulips or daffodils. We will go to an Easter egg hunt, and I will give her a noisy gong to ring at the Easter Vigil. I’ll gather more flowers for her, maybe azaleas from our backyard, to flower the cross on Easter Day, then ask her if she would like to sing with the other children at the Easter Day service. I’ll secretly leave for her a little extra chocolate at the Easter Brunch, rest with her in the afternoon, play with her on the next day, Easter Monday—maybe even go to a movie.
She is my inner child, born on Easter Sunday. I will remind her that Easter Day next year will again be a celebration of her birthday. Her real name is Jo Anna, and the God who loves her constantly tells her she is greatly loved, especially by those whose name she bears.
Purchase a copy of A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter from me, firstname.lastname@example.org, from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, or from Amazon.