Note: this year, Passover includes Easter, but ten years ago, when this post is set, Passover was significantly earlier, which is why it's not mentioned in this post. There was a Seder on campus, but I didn't attend it that year.
June and I went to my parents' house for the weekend--we went to hers last year, but they're farther away and a short visit there is less practical. It was nice to be home for Easter again, and June got to hang out with my sister-in-law, which she really hasn't done before. It's not that they hadn't met, though they really hadn't spent a lot of time together, but they hadn't seemed to feel much motivation. Now, it's like they have something in common, a little support group of women who love Kretzmans, I suppose, that I never noticed before. I think that it's because we're engaged--there's a shift with how my whole family is around June, like they're starting to believe she's going to stay awhile.
Our intergenerational egg-hunt tradition is over, by the way. My oldest nephew is almost six, and even my brother's littlest kid is old enough to hunt eggs, so the kids have totally taken over the day again. It's all for them. My Mom does still give my generation Easter baskets, though--this year she made one for June, too, which June totally was not expecting. That was cool. I did take the kids on a walk around the neighborhood and into the park and showed them birds building nests and piles of frog jelly in ponds and ditches. That was my brother's idea, and I prepped for the walk on Saturday, the same way I would have for a workshop at school. Next year, or maybe the year after, I'll have them do their own searching.
Or, we will. June is a bit miffed nobody thought to ask her to be involved. She is an environmental educator, but I don't think my brother knew that. And I just got caught up preparing for the walk. I'm not used to having a partner.
This was the first time June and I have been to church together. I think it may have been the first time June's attended this kind of service at all--she was raised Quaker, and their services are very different. And not all of them even celebrate Easter. I'm afraid we didn't hear much of the sermon, though. June tapped my foot with hers, so I tapped back, and pretty soon we were tapping and kicking and kind of playing surreptitious tag until my Dad, who was sitting behind us, leaned forward and whispered "children, behave!"
The actual children, sitting a row in from of us with my brother, heard and kind of jumped, but they were behaving. Unimpeachable conduct, really. It's obviously not genetic.
June and I walked back to the house afterwards while the others drove.
"Do you believe that stuff?" she asked me.
"What, you mean like the Resurrection?" I asked.
"I suppose not, not like a literal fact. I used to. I kind of want to, but I don't."
"I used to, too."
"What happened?" I asked. "To us?"
"We grew up," June told me, sighing.
"So did my parents. So did my brother. They believe."
"Do they? Have you asked?"
"No," I acknowledged. "But there must be some genuine believers. It's not like religious people are stupid, or childish, or something." I thought of Ollie and of Andy, two of the best, most mature and responsible people I know, and they believe. They'd say they are mature and responsible because they believe.
"Growing up must mean different things," June suggested. "Up means different things, you know. Down always points to the same place, the center of the Earth, but up always points to different places. Our heads aren't pointed in the same direction. As long as we stand on a curved Planet Earth, our bodies aren't parallel."
Somehow I found this idea lonely. She took my hand as we walked.
"Sometimes I almost believe," I said. "I believe in God, I believe in Spirit, and I hear all these ideas, Kit's ideas, and Joy's, and Greg's, and they all make sense. I read my Bible, and it makes sense. I learn things from all of these places, all these different ideas. I think they could all be true, at least a little bit, you know, like the blind people touching the elephant...and then I got to church and the preacher says something, or I talk to my Uncle and he says something, and I can't help it, I think 'you can't actually believe that nonsense, can you?'"
"What does Charlie believe?" June asked.
"Charlie doesn't believe. Charlie acts. And he teaches me to do the same."
"And to feel. You've said he taught you how to love."
"He did. Love is an action," I said, although love is also a feeling. Or, at least, there is a way I feel when I love, or when I know myself to be loved. I don't understand, not really. I squeezed her hand. "Hey," I added, "how come you don't need a spirit master? You don't attend services."
"I'm spiritual but I'm not religious. I told them so, and I guess they believed me."
We went home--to my parents' home, I mean--and had our egg hunt for the kids and our walk in the park looking for real nests (that I'd found the day before), and then we had dinner, our traditional local and humanely raised ham and organic, local fixings (this year they were all local, so nothing was fresh except for the steamed dandelion greens and the flower salad I made, and of course, my Mom's egg salad, but everybody liked the meal), and had a good time.
But the whole day, off and on, I was thinking about my friends back at school and what they might be doing. Ollie was leading the campus Easter service, I was sure. I almost stayed so I could attend, I'd love to hear him preach and I never have. Kit may have been steadfastly ignoring the day as too Christian (though I know people who consider it too pagan), or she may have attended to on-campus service. She does sometimes, and did my first year. I remember seeing her there, her red hair shining in the sun. Allen was there that day, too, but he usually doesn't attend, because he's usually not on campus on Sundays. He and his family attend a Unitarian Universalist church, and I expect he was attending Easter services there.
I found out this morning I was wrong.
Ollie, remember, has been spending his weekends with Allen's family so he can see therapy clients. They normally bike, so I'd thought Ollie would just bike back early for the service, but for some reason this time Allen drove him. The plan was for Allen to attend the service on campus, and then go meet his family for the church service afterwards, but that's not what happened, either.
Ollie told me that he and Allen arrived early at Chapel Hall, so Ollie could get ready, but several people were already there. Charlie was one of them. While Ollie was setting up chairs with a few other people, he overheard Charlie ask Allen, "Do you want to play hooky?" And he didn't see Allen after that.
But a yearling had already given me the other half of the story, without knowing that he was doing so--he'd seen both Charlie and Allen up in a tree together, looking at something through binoculars--Allen still wearing the suit he'd planned to wear for the service, except he'd left his jacket at ground level. It was his red tie that snagged the yearling's attention. I'd asked what they were looking at, but the yearling didn't know. He did point in the right direction.
The cider house is in that direction. And I happen to know there is a fox den underneath it. I saw the mother vixen about two and a half weeks ago (I can't recognize her individually, I just noticed her swollen teats), which means the kits must have been about ten days old, or she wouldn't have left them. That makes them about four weeks old, the age at which fox kits start coming out of their den.
Allen and Charlie watched the kits come out into the light of day for the first time on Easter morning.