Chris Rice Cooper

Chris Rice Cooper

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Poet Terri Kirby Erickson: "What Easter Means To Me!"

Guest Blogger Terri Kirby Erickson
What Easter Means To Me


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  John 16:33




When I was a little girl, Easter meant dyeing hard-boiled eggs with our mother—hiding, hunting for, and eating them—and wearing an especially frilly dress (in my brother's case, a mini-suit, complete with bow tie) to Sunday school and church.  But most of all, we couldn't wait for that giant rabbit to visit our house on Druid Hills Drive, leaving behind those enormous cellophane-wrapped Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs and bunnies, jelly beans, and other treats for my little brother and me to find and devour.




One Easter morning when I was about four years old, I decided to go in search for that illusive bunny, who never seemed to stick around long enough for a grateful hug. 




Because it was so early, I figured he had to be on our street somewhere, still delivering baskets to our neighbors and friends.  So I opened the front door and ran outside in my "footie" pajamas, and wandered up and down the street searching for a large, colorful, basket-toting rabbit.  Needless to say, I couldn't find him, and my parents were none too pleased when they discovered I had been outside all by myself in the half-light of dawn, looking for him.

Little did I know that the Easter bunny wasn't a human-sized, brightly-tinted hare, but my own mother and father, two people whose love to this very day, sustains me.  I never had to leave home at all to find what had been right there with us, my brother and me, all along.



As an adult, I have often encountered people who are continuously searching for something they can't find because they are concentrating on the things of this world—more money, bigger houses and cars, more stimulating partners and friends—and on the dark side, drugs, alcohol, and anything else that takes their minds off themselves and their earthly challenges, and offers them oblivion.  Nothing, however, seems to satisfy them for long. 

I believe there is a sort of "God space" in our hearts and minds that can only be filled by Him—that no matter what we try to toss into that space that isn't God, it will remain empty.  Many of us yearn for something we cannot name, and in my belief system, that "something" is a relationship with God the father and His son, Jesus Christ, who love us whether or not we love them in return, but never enter a "room" with a locked door—the kind of door we close when we reject any idea that God exists.




Personally, I am not a dogmatic Christian, and my idea of "hell" is what it would be like to try and negotiate this big, hard world by myself without the love, tenderness. and strength of God.  Sometimes the only prayer I can manage is, "Father, please help me," but He always comes through, even when my prayers are brief and ineloquent.  When I think of those who don't believe in God and consequently never pray, I picture them as people who refuse to plug in their toasters, but nonetheless, keep trying to make toast. 


I have had friends who are Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic—and I love and respect them all and their right to believe or to disbelieve in anything.  In my view, there are many paths to enlightenment and I would never presume to judge the rightness or wrongness of anyone's faith or lack thereof, nor would I criticize their journey.  And I understand, also, that to many, the idea of God is a lot like the Easter bunny—something folks made up to amuse and comfort children as well as "naive" adults whom they picture clinging to religion like a crutch, all too often beating others over the head with it.




Well, beating people over the head with my views is not my way, nor do I believe it is Christ's way.  I am no saint by any means, but what I try to do—imperfectly, of course—is to reflect God's love to others in my daily life, in my poetry, and in my relationships with the people around me.  I am not a Christian writer, but a writer who happens to be a Christian.  And I'm not an evangelist, either, nor do I yammer on about my faith or religion in general, with people who don't want to hear it. 




But no matter what I write about, it is through the prism of my belief in a loving God.  And no matter who I'm with, I'm doing my best to mirror God's love to that person, in whatever way is needed.  Of course, I fall short again and again because I'm all too human.  It is amazing to me that God loves me and loves all of us, anyway, just like my parents and others love me, no matter what idiotic, ineffectual, wacky, or counterproductive thing I might attempt to do today.




So for me, Easter has become over the years, a time to reflect on how blessed I feel to be in relationship with the God of my understanding, and how wonderful it is to be "connected" to the power of His love and to know that He is always with me and with all people in the world who love Him, too—and even with those who don't, for whom Easter can still symbolize a time of rebirth and renewal. 


But I have to admit, as far as I'm concerned, Easter and chocolate go together like Antony and Cleopatra—well, not as disastrously, I hope!  I love chocolate even more today than I did when I was four, which means good luck finding a pair of "footie" pajamas to fit me now...  And while you won't see me roaming the streets searching for the Easter bunny, or wearing a frilly dress and patent leather shoes in Sunday school, I will be at home with my family, quietly celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and wishing every person of all faiths or none, a joy and chocolate-filled day!





Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of four collections of poetry, including In the Palms of Angels (Press 53, 2011), winner of multiple awards including a Nautilus Book Award, and her latest collection, A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53, 2014). Her work has appeared in the 2013 Poet's Market, Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac, Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Verse Daily, The Christian Science Monitor, JAMA, and numerous others, and her poetry has won many awards and honors, including the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and the Poetry for their Freedom Award.  She lives in a small town in North Carolina with her husband, Leonard, in a gray ranch house surrounded by songbirds, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit.  For more information about her work, please visit www.terrikirbyerickson.com





Photograph Description And Copyright Information 

Photo 1
Woman and Jesus painting image.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Information

Photo 2
1907 postcard depicting the Easter Bunny
Public Domain

Photo 3
Terri Kirby Erickson at age 4
Copyright granted by Terri Kirby Erickson

Photo 4

Photo 5
Terri Kirby Erickson's parents
Copyright granted by Terri Kirby Erickson

Photo 6

Photo 7
Painting of Jesus holding a lantern knocking at the door
Attributed to William Holman Hunt (04-02-1827 - 09-07-1910)

Photo 8
Praying Hands
Attributed to Albrecht Durer
Public Domain

Photo 9
The Co-exist sign
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright law

Photo 10
Jesus washing the disciplines' feet
Attributed to Jacopo Comin Tintoretto (10-1516 to 05-1594)
Public Domain

Photo 11
Woman writing
Attributed to Henri Lebasque 09/25/1865 to 08/09/1937
Public Domain

Photo 12
Terri Kirby Erickson sitting on her front porch
Copyright granted by Terri Kirby Erickson.

Photo 13
Terri Kirby Erickson
Copyright granted by Terri Kirby Erickson

Photo 14
Jacket cover of In the Palms of Angels 

Photo 15
Jacket cover of A Lake of Light and Clouds 

2 comments:

  1. I share many of your ideas. I believe that there are many paths to understanding our place in creation, and many people who can help us find our way. I don't really care how others find their way to the shared values of love and tolerance so long as they are working towards those lofty goals rather than against them.

    Happy Easter!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just be careful about which God you insert into your God-space.

    ReplyDelete