Monday, April 12, 2010

Anything But Over Easy

They were just eggs. Ordinary eggs. Scrambled for breakfast, fried hard and slapped between two pieces of white bread with mayonnaise, broken into pound cake batter in fat gold globes.

But once a year they were anything but ordinary.Lowered gently into coffee cups with the thin wire egg holder that came in the Paas box with six colored disks that could have easily been mistaken for SweetTarts, they magically turned yellow like dandelions in morning dew and purple like verbena scattered across the churchyard. They became pale pink like dogwoods, brighter pink like azaleas and deep rose like camellias, the hues varying according to how long we could stand the smell of vinegar.

There were no adhesive stickers, no peel-off graphics, no stand-up cardboard caricatures. There was no glitter, no puff paint. We created Easter eggs with nothing but color.

But then we had to give them up, had to relinquish our beautiful treasures, into the hands of the those who would hide them before giving us the chance to reclaim them by demonstrating our skill and patience and cunning. We were, without knowing it, being introduced to the concept of quest – desire and pursuit.

Except for one thing, one thing that had never occurred to me until Easter Sunday afternoon when I drove past a yard where a single child was weaving slowly through the grass, basket in hand, eyes down.

Every Easter egg hunt in which I ever participated was started by an announcement, usually by the thick-chested Sunday School Superintendent standing on the steps of the social hall, as to the boundaries of the hunt. "Go back as far as the fence and over on that side as far as the ditch and on the other side up to the dogwood tree. Don’t go past the cars. No eggs over there." He told us, in essence, where to find the treasure.

And in a real quest, the kind that requires single-mindedness and the forsaking of all else, it’s never that easy. In a real quest, the object of longing having been identified and the heart having been given over to the consuming desire to have it for one’s own, one can’t know ahead of time the limits of the search. In a real quest, the kind that can take a lifetime to accomplish, the hero, the heroine has to ignore the fences and ditches and head straight toward the horizon.

A few weeks ago "Man of La Mancha" arrived at Sandhill in a red Netflix envelope. I’d never seen the movie, though I knew something of the story of the crazy old man who saw a giant in a windmill and a noble lady in a prostitute. Ridiculed and taunted by most and simply tolerated by his only friend, Don Quixote neared the end of his life tired and weak, but never wavering in the pursuit of his desire.

"This is my quest," he sang, "to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right without question or pause, to be willing to march into Hell for a heavenly cause."

Hell, I think, is probably way past the fence, way past the ditch.

I understand the need for boundaries and for consequences for violating those boundaries. I understand the need for limits, in society and in an individual life. What I also understand, though, is the need to stretch those limits in pursuit of one’s own heavenly cause.

And, maybe, if we started with an Easter egg hunt, some child somewhere would grow into a man or woman who – like Don Quixote scorned and covered with scars – teaches us all something about reaching for the unreachable star.

Copyright 2010

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I love Bulloch County but these columns need to be shared with a larger audience.....this column makes you think, whether you want to or not...