For me, the day after Easter feels like even more of a letdown than the day after Christmas.
As a little girl growing up on the seasonal east coast, Easter was the first day of the year that I could wear sandals and a spring dress. (Sandals have always been my preferred footwear.) After the long, cold winter of wearing too many clothes, this was always very exciting. I expected every day after that to be warmer and warmer until autumn started setting in. The reality was that the weather was often still cold for several more weeks. Sometimes it would even snow one more time before spring really set in and I would have to don my winter coat and snow pants and boots and leave my sandals and spring dresses in the closet a little longer.
As an adult observing Lent, I spend six weeks looking forward to the freedom of Easter Sunday when I can finally eat chocolate again or watch Netflix or regain whatever little vices I gave up for Lent. I expect that the spiritual disciplines I have adopted for Lent will wondrously change and refine me. That I will be a different person come Easter. I hope that whatever focus of prayer I have chosen through Lent will be dramatically answered on Easter. The rituals and reflections of Good Friday always move me and I am ready for old things to die and new things to come. I have fasted. I have prayed. Shouldn’t I get the answer/outcome/change I am seeking? But the day after Easter I am mostly the same person with mostly the same problems I had the day before Easter.
I expect something miraculous (read: magical) to happen on Easter and when it doesn’t, I am disappointed.
You see, as much as I want to believe that my faith has matured, sometimes I really just want God to be the Easter Bunny. I want to frolic around a well-manicured lawn “looking” for the “hidden” Easter eggs. I want to gently push aside a bunch of daffodils to find an Easter basket filled with all of the wonderful, sweet things I have been hoping for. I don’t really want to seek and pursue the good things. I want them to appear. All tied up in a bow with minimal effort on my part. While I am wearing a cute dress that won’t get dirty. (I’m just being honest.)
Deep down I know the answers and changes I am really looking for require a process. In my experience, God rarely gives me the things I want, even the really good Godly things, in an instant. He allows me to go through a transformation that requires time and growth. Sometimes there are weeds that need to be plowed up from my life before something new can be planted. Sometimes the seeds that are planted have a long germination period before there is much to see. Sometimes, even after the young plant has sprouted and is maturing, there are still many more years before it produces fruit. And sometimes, even a plant that has been bearing fruit needs to be trimmed back for a time.
When I look at my life from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, I don’t see much that has changed.
But if I look at my life with a more long view, I am amazed at how much has sprouted and grown in my life. I am shocked at how many really good things I have found (much better than anything the Easter Bunny could leave.) Sometimes I feel like even in my short 29 years, I have already died and been resurrected as a new person many times over. So I keep trying to live the fasting times and the feasting times with equal gratitude and hope for what is to come. Resting in the knowledge that Easter has already happened and will happen again in my life many times over until the day when there are no more Ash Wednesdays or Good Fridays and only Easter forever more.