As we pause in our hectic lives to celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ, please allow me to share an Easter memory. I realize that most childhood Easter memories will entail bunnies and candy, Christ’s love, family dinners, or a combination of these. This particular Easter memory doesn’t. It was when I was a very bad little girl.
I know, I know… Those of you who know me personally are shocked that it is even possible that I was ever a disobedient child. As an adult, when I recall this particular Easter Sunday morning, I do believe it is a miracle that I am alive today because I was old enough to know better. Most certainly I deserved a punishment that was as memorable as my actions.
When I was around 7 years old, which would make my older brother 9 and my younger sister 5, we were visiting a large church on Easter Sunday. I believe it was the church of an extended family member. I know we were guests. We were all dressed up for Easter Sunday and just happened to be seated in the front row of a balcony. This was a resplendent, celebratory Easter service and they had a large choir singing… with a choir director.
Normally I was not the child whose behavior caused my parents concern. I was usually quiet, well behaved, and obedient. My older brother would cause trouble. My younger sister would be noisy. I, however, was the quintessential model child. But, sitting up in the front row of that balcony on that particular Easter Sunday unleashed something wild in me. My parents didn’t know what hit them. I blame the choir director.
Now, I don’t know if I had never seen a choir director use their arms to direct before or if it was the sugar from too much chocolate, but once I saw that choir, I was beyond control. First, I started to giggle. I tried to hold it in, but it just kept bubbling out and became uncontrollable. Then I simple had to start swinging my chubby little arms like that choir director. As I giggled and “directed” I looked at my brother and sister. They started to giggle. My parents now had a full-blown incident of misbehavior on their hands.
My mom reached over my sister, grabbed my hands, and gave me a look. I momentarily stopped and then started up again. My dad gave me the stern look of “I am deadly serious” that I can now see in my own adult face. It should have stopped me dead in my tracks and had me trembling in anticipation of the trouble I was now in. I couldn’t stop. My mom grabbed my arm and whispered some threat. It didn’t matter. I was a choir directing, giggling heretic sitting up in the front row of the balcony for everyone to turn around and see. I was the laughing, whirling dervish of child choir directors. Simple put, I was the bad girl poster child.
All I remember now is the feeling of uncontrollable glee as I laughed and the sheer delight I felt while swinging my arms like that choir director. It still brings a smile to my face thinking about it. It was the best feeling. It was freeing. It was delightful. It was great fun. Unfortunately, it was also during an Easter Sunday church service.
Eventually I calmed down, probably because the choir stopped singing and the sermon began. My parents looked unnaturally still and their faces looked tired and under great strain. At that point it occurred to me that my performance might result in my time on earth to be considerably shortened. The obedient child that I normally was came back and I sat quietly for the rest of church.
I don’t remember what my punishment was for my actions. I vaguely recall being severely chastised. There might even have been a spanking… and I was not a child who normally received spankings. Very likely both of these happened. All I can remember is my laughter and the feeling of great and perfect joy as I sat up in the balcony, looking down at the choir, and directing them.