Updated: May 3
Sister Teresa D. Goins
According to the online 2021 Reader’s Digest’s 27 Easter Quotes to Inspire Hope, the legendary country music performer Dolly Parton said, “I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and True Love. Don’t even try to tell me different!” Some 50 years ago, Dolly’s bleach-blonde, eccentric, and (‘pardon’ me) voluptuous persona was one of the best-ever advertising ploys; but even more profound today (at age 75 ) is her childlike approach to that which keeps her young. Case in point: Turning a certain age shouldn’t mean that we grow old and stale! As parents, grandparents, and guardians, our life’s work is to touch the hearts of our young people. What better season than Easter, a time of rebirth, to renew our positive zeal and youthful optimism, on behalf of those God has entrusted to our care.
#1 - Live in the here-and-now. “… do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34). Just for a little while, STOP being bothered over your basket of bills; and GO outside for a walk with your kids. FORGET all the dust that has accumulated on your furniture; and REMEMBER how sweet it can be just to play. GIVE your children your undivided attention; and TAKE BACK your once-contented heart over the simple joys of life.
#2 - Wear some rose-colored glasses, for a change! In 1915, McLandburgh Wilson wrote, “Twixt the optimist and pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist sees the doughnut, but the pessimist sees the hole.” LAY DOWN your apprehensions about virtual school and PICK UP your faith that, with help from Above, good grades are possible. Don’t STRESS because your grandson has a ponytail – or your granddaughter, pink hair – REJOICE in their confidence to express themselves in a creative (and harmless) way.
#3 - Take a rumination vacation. Rumination occurs when we focus our attention on the symptoms of our stress, and its sources and consequences, instead of its solutions. My daddy called it “chewing one’s cud,” as a cow continually chews her food until there is nothing left but mush. Don’t LOSE the battle over your toddler’s twentieth temper tantrum; WINit with a little pat on the ‘tush’ and a big kiss. Don’t PONDER all night over your teenager’s messy room; REST in the multitude of the other triumphs she has made.
#4 - Live on a latitude of gratitude. When your little girl knocks over yet another glass of ‘goo,’ don’t SHOUT and get mad – WHISPER a prayer of thanks for such a healthy, boisterous child. IGNORE those inner pronouncements that pester you to be a perfect parent; LISTEN to your heart, which will quickly proclaim you are doing all you can.
#5 – You can smile! My mother sang to us an old 1935 song by Alfred Ackley: “You can smile when you can’t say a word. You can smile when you cannot be heard. You can smile when it’s cloudy or fair. You can smile anytime, anywhere.” No matter the circumstances, no matter the struggles – no matter your anxiety and exhaustion – OPEN your mornings with prayer; Fill your afternoons with patience; and CLOSE your nights with a smile, knowing that God has everything under control.
Then again, if – no matter how hard you try – you can’t quite find that optimum of cheer, remember the Easter bunny and egg, who represent the fertility and fruitfulness of a brand-new spring. Recall the lily that emerges from the earth, robed in Easter white. Think of the spring butterfly, whose wings can touch the sky. Then, consider the egg as the tomb in Golgotha, from whence Jesus broke forth for the rebirth of mankind; the lily in white as the purity of the Lord – the caterpillar (His earthly life); the cocoon (His death and burial); and the beautiful buoyant butterfly, as our Savior’s resurrection from the dead!
In your quest for renewed optimism, call to mind the song Dolly performs every year around this time: He’s Alive!
“But suddenly, the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume; light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room. And Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide; and I fell down on my knees, and I just clung to Him and cried: ‘He’s alive, He’s alive! Yes, He’s alive and I’m forgiven; Heaven’s gates are open wide! He’s alive!’”
When all else is less than perfect, harken to Easter, at which time God promises each of us the chance for a fresh new start.