Easter Monday

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 8:30am

The day after Easter is a holiday in many countries, one of those bits of information that has somehow eluded me all these years. Further, it is the day of the Egg Roll at the White House. That it is and always has been on Monday is something else I learned today.

The ways in which one can be sidetracked following a simple “Easter Monday” query of the world wide web are limitless; the Egg Roll in Washington was initially on the grounds of the Capitol until there were complaints of the mess the children made and something called the Turf Protection Law was passed. “You can not make this stuff up” does not pertain only to Block Island!

It was, per history.house.gov, “to prevent any portion of the Capitol grounds and terraces from being used as play-grounds or otherwise, so far as may be necessary to protect the public property, turf, and grass from destruction and injury.” The activity was moved to the grounds of the White House by Rutherford B. Hayes. Astonishingly, it was not until action by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower that it was opened to African-American children in 1954. (I've heard a few times “not Eleanor Roosevelt?” and can only guess it was because the Roll was re-instated following a hiatus during and after the war years.)

This Easter Monday the forecast for the week is overcast at best, rainy at worst but today the sun is shining. The peepers were in full chorus over the weekend and now Autumn comes in with the very identifiable smell of damp earth on her feet. Daffodils did not bloom for Easter but it was a beautiful day, all in all.

There is a pantry at the Harbor Church, one of those oft-used spaces that gets cleaned out every few months only to devolve into the sort of chaos that has people shaking their heads with “but I just put it all in order!”

It is a snapshot in time, what belongs to whom telling a tale of the wide and varied use of the building. I have long held the belief that I need only walk into the pantry and if I stand there long enough whatever I am seeking will make itself known. Just because the coffee carton marked “Christmas” has fall decorations in it, and because whoever put another well marked carton on a higher shelf placed it so the end with the writing on it is against the wall, does not necessarily mean the old coffee urn box marked “tablecloths” is not filled with linen.

And no matter how many are discarded there is always a box with the same contents, prompting the same question: “does this coffee urn still work?” or the increasingly common “didn't we throw this out?!”

A week or two ago I finally made good on my promise of cleaning the pantry myself, at the time not considering it would serve me well to know where things were come Easter morning as the sun was climbing and hungry people were gathering.

A chair is in the pantry because some of us are short and the shelves are high. The big chafing dishes many see filled with food as they pass through the line at Roll Call Dinner are kept up there —amazingly in their original cartons — a sensible place for items infrequently used.

They are big but not heavy, not difficult to get down, but Easter morning there were rolls of paper towels atop them, lightweight bulky items that come wrapped tightly in plastic; once their bag is broken, as it was, and a few rolls removed, as they had been, all bets are off.

It was an avalanche of white, none of the towels unrolling but the sheer absurdity of it undid any annoyance over the fact I got up at 4:26 and still missed the service.

During the days before Easter I kept hearing that it would be cold and kept replying that it was not the cold but the clouds that were my concern. Stealing moments to look over as the time approached I saw the increasingly defined cloud bank off to the east, above an easily visible horizon that creates a false hope that there will be a glorious dawning of the new day. There comes a point at which everyone has to acknowledge it's not going to happen, that we have to take on faith that the sun has risen.

Later, I looked out the backdoor of the church and saw the sun shining on the Manisses Hotel; the pastor said it had come above the clouds just as the service was concluding with “better timing than I had planned.” It was the affirming sun we hope for every Easter morning.

It is tempting to say those early worshipers arrive like a swarm of locusts but that is not true; they simply come in filled with the joy of the morning, hoping for a cup of coffee on their way to food. It is a very special time of fellowship, during which folks linger realizing it is still so early. Some who come are visitors, people who read a notice in the paper or online, this year even one whose eye had been caught by a reference to the pastor's wife being a potter.

Last year during this unhurried meal a slight gentleman spoke to me by name. His white hair threw me; he lived in Massachusetts, I had not seen him in quite a awhile, and did not recognize him at first. It was a bit before it hit me how sick he was. A few months later the illness overcame him. 

This year I saw the sun shining on the hotel his family had brought back from ruin. I think of that last time I saw who will always be “Ricky” Abrams to me and realized there are reasons to get up at an absurd hour even when one is in the pantry being showered with paper towels instead of witnessing the actual sunrise.