Remember that in 2003, when this narrative is set, Easter fell on April 18th. -D.
I went home for Easter again, and we had the intergenerational egg hunt and the humanely raised ham and so on, just like the last few years. My family asked me more about the school, I did some more dishes and some yard work. We all had a good time, and I stayed over Sunday night and went straight to work from there in the morning (remember, we don't get a break for Easter at school). Just like last year and the year before.
What was different was the presence of my nephew. He's old enough now to participate in the egg hunt in a modest way, so we hid a couple of eggs in obvious places where he could reach them and we all clapped and made a big fuss whenever he found one. It's curious--even though we were all searching for eggs too, the event seemed mostly about him. We were making an event for him and enjoying it vicariously, not having an egg hunt for ourselves. We didn't plan it that way, but he could not participate with us as an equal, so we all had to make a circumstance where he could participate the way he could. Somehow, the presence of a child made us all act like adults.
He wasn't the only child there--I have a niece now, also, but she isn't anywhere near walking yet and was mostly an observer.
The other thing of real note this weekend happened at church.
We were partway through the service when I realized a bird had flown in. The day was nice out and I suppose a window must have been open somewhere. I'm not sure what kind it was, I never got a close look at it--probably and English sparrow. There are a lot of them in town.
It flew here and there, trying to find a way to get out, and gradually everyone in the place noticed it was there. I watched it happen--the glances, the pointing, and then the resolute refocusing on the service. The pastor noticed somewhat later than everybody else because it spent most of its time flying above or behind him, but finally he saw it and then deliberately ignored it. I'm not sure that anyone heard anything else he said, we were all watching the bird.
Afterwards, my dad laughed about the situation. He thought the pastor would have done better to acknowledge the bird and that the man's ignoring the situation had distracted everyone. It reminded him, he said, of a play he'd seen where a fly had buzzed around and around the head of one of the actors during an important soliloquy. The actor had chosen to pretend the fly wasn't there, and had done an admirable job of doing so, but the attempt had backfired; ignoring the fly destroyed the audience's suspension of disbelief because if the action on the stage was really real, the people on the stage would have noticed the fly.
Interesting point, but my Dad took it for granted that the bird was an interruption of the service. Everyone I spoke with during the Fellowship Hour said something about the bird, and for all of them it was simply obvious that the bird was not a proper part of the service. Even the children I spoke to thought its presence had been hilarious fun because there was something naughty about it.
Out of everyone in the place, maybe one or two hundred people, I was the only one who didn't get the joke, the only one who saw no reason why an Easter service shouldn't involve a wild bird.
I could have wept. I just suddenly realized I can't ever go back. I mean, I can attend services at my childhood church with my family any time I want to. But I'll always be the odd one out, now.