Friday, 20 April 2012
The Cross and the Bunny
Here's a question for you:
Does one attempt to teach an almost-three-year-old about the Bibical origins of Easter, or does one just give her a chocolate bunny and run away?
I grappled with this last year. Thankfully D was there to snap me out of my religious/cocoa conundrum with his patented "Woman, have you lost your marbles?" stare when I broached the subject. He was right. My two year old didn't need to know about the cross just yet.
But this year Jade would be nearly three, Easter was around the corner, and I felt like I should be telling her about Jesus while she ate her chocolate eggs. Or how eggs and bunnies symbolized the rebirth of spring. Or something.
I was raised Lutheran by a father who didn't attend church and a mother who didn't believe in organized religion but made us go to the Lutheran church anyway. So Sunday School, confirmation, all that stuff - chore and bore. My sister and I got taught about the bible, but nothing was ever practised at home. I faithfully taught Sunday school and bible school all through my youth, and got to know the Bible inside and out, but didn't really undertand it on a spiritual or emotional level. It was just stuff I had to do.
Then I met up with a sincere, rowdy, fun, youthfully devoted bunch of born again Christians when I was sixteen and my life changed. I even got baptized - full immersion dunky-dunky style - when I turned 17. My mother watched reproachfully from the very back of the church; she was certain I'd joined a cult.
As I grew into my twenties, I enjoyed a vigourous faith in a church that felt like it was full of long-lost family members I never knew I had. I loved the prayer groups, the adult bible studies, the concerts and the services. I stage managed yearly plays with the church and led a young women's bible study group. I learned, read, debated and felt like I was on pretty solid ground with God.
My church life screeched to a halt during the last tumutous years with my ex, who was raised in a devout Christian home but had begun having crises of faith. Suddenly showing up at church without your husband back then was akin to standing up after a hymn and screaming, "MY HUSBAND IS A BACKSLIDER!" I couldn't handle the curious looks and gently pointed questions like, "So where's your hubby today?" And after the break-up, I gave up my old church all together. I began to attend a United Church down the street, where I could be silent and miserable in the back pew without any pity from the congregation. I loved the giant, beautiful, ornate space, the pastor seemed very kind, and I loved the way the church reached out to the local community. Most of all, I loved being anonymous.
When D and I began dating, I remember how D's mother proudly showed me all his sunday school pins for pefect attendance. He wouldn't be winning any pins these days, but he and I agree there is a God and that we're here to help our fellow humans. We sporadically attend the Pine River United church up here in Kinkytown, but our kids don't go regularly. Personally, I think they're too wild to be penned up inside a sunday school classroom just now. So teaching the finer points of religion is a responsibility that falls directly on our shoulders.
I ended up buying Jade a children's picture book that presented a fairly bloodless, less graphic version of the Easter story without missing any of the important plot points. Her only question was, "Where's heaven, Mummy?" And she still got lots of chocolate eggs and begged Grandpa not to shoot the Easter bunny.
I guess the main thing is that we present the kids with enough information to encourage them to think about God, spirituality and why things happen the way they do. I want them to have enough information to ask questions, even though I shudder to think about having these conversations when I'm no longer as solid with God as I once was. And eating a few chocolate bunnies while we talk won't hurt.