Preparations for Easter dinner are underway in the Golder house. It’s an odd juxtaposition in my mind. I am preparing menus, shopping and figuring out how the logistics of feeding the 20 people who will show up at my doorstep Sunday evening to celebrate the Resurrection and the LIfe, even as I spend three days steeped in the suffering of the Passion.
So it was that I found myself dyeing the blown out eggs for cascarones this morning.
For the uninitiated, cascarones are hollowed out eggshells, filled with confetti, that are broken over the heads of friends and family at Easter. It’s a Mexican tradition I adopted after living in the Southwest,--and because I was quick to adopt any custom that spoke to me as we reared our young family and created memories of our own. It is said that having the confetti eggs broken over one’s head brings good luck. In reality, I have a sneaking suspicion cascarones developed because they are a great way for youngsters let off steam in a relatively benign way during a celebration that they otherwise don’t quite “get” yet.
We’ve had a grand tradition of casacarone wars, the most memorable of which was on a beach in Lake Powell one Easter morning after a wild ride on a houseboat in a wicked storm that left us high and dry on the beach awaiting rescue. I had smuggled the hollowed out eggs all the way from Florida in anticipation of Easter morning.The kids raced among the cholla and the broombush pelting each other and shrieking with delight. The Navajo who lived there would have called the experience hozro. I have learned to recognize it as the peace Christ speaks of--when all is as it should be between me and my fellow man (even my children) and God. Waiting in peace on the beach in the cool March morning, knowing rescue was on its way. Waiting quietly in Lent, knowing Easter is coming.
So it was this morning that I plunked the hollow eggs, saved lovingly over the Lenten season, into a vat of red food dye, and reflected. I won’t have time to make these fancy, like the ones sold in shops in Tucson at this time of year, with rolled newspaper handles and petals wrapped in crepe paper to make an effective cascarone-club that looks deceptively like a bright Easter flower. Instead, I’ll just put the filled eggs into a petal-shaped holder of construction paper, and put the resulting flowers in a bowl for guests. They’ll toss well....and they will hit their marks.
As I watched the eggs take on the red of the food dye, my thoughts began to wander. These cascarones will be all red, just like the eggs in the Greek tradition, red for the blood of Christ shed for us. A good choice as it turns out. I must remember to make certain that I have everything in the house for my Greek Easter bread, including more red dye for the eggs that will adorn it like a crown, before sundown tonight--there will be no more shopping until Monday.
Red, for blood. Christ’s precious blood, of which we cannot be reminded often enough. Petals for the flowers of Easter, for the rebirth that comes, unbidden and sometimes unexpected, with the spring, with Christ, like the volunteer pansies that have poked up their heads in my garden, bright purple faces to greet me in the morning. The joy of the Resurrection that steals on me in the oddest of times: when I watch my kids making a fine mess with broken eggs and confetti, when I stand in my kitchen making preparations for Easter dinner, when I wash up, spent and tired, after the crowd leaves and the house is silent and still full of warmth and love.
Perhaps hidden in this joyous custom is another meaning, another layer. When we break the eggs over each other’s head, I will remember that we are all bathed in Christ’s blood, in baptism and this we rise with Him in the Resurrection. Blood hidden in flowers, not a bad image.
And no one breaks an egg over his own head. It’s no fun, and tradition says not effective, unless someone else pelts you with the treasured confetti. So it is with our faith. It is a gift, wholly a gift, tossed in our direction by the grace of God, and always, always breaking over us through one of His servants in this life.
And it should be accompanied by racing about--at least metaphorically--with great abandon, and with shrieks of great joy, to spread to others what we have received ourselves, then to stop, exhausted by the experience, to settle in and clean up the world that we have transformed around us by our joy and the sharing of our blessings. I learned long ago, that there is as much pleasure--though of a different kind--in cleaning up eggshells and confetti as there is in making and breaking the eggs.
My bowl will hold a few dozen cascarones, and they will be gone and shattered before the end of the evening. Thanks be to God that HIs bowl of confetti eggs never empties.