We Plan, God Laughs
by Linda M. Potter
Up until I was four years old, I thought bunnies laid eggs. Why else, I reasoned, were rabbits always depicted with baskets of eggs if they weren’t tending the brightly colored objects waiting for the tiny bunnies inside to hatch. Oh no, my mother explained one fateful Easter morning; unlike the chickens at my grandfather’s farm, mother rabbits gave birth to live baby bunnies. The eggs in an Easter Bunny’s basket came from the grocery store, and, although there might be a baby bunny or two in the mix, they were of the hollow chocolate variety. I was devastated. No wonder those pink and yellow eggs from the previous Easter that I’d carefully hidden under the back porch had never hatched. Sigh…
Peter Cottontail with his basket filled with Easter eggs is an Easter tradition rooted in antiquity. Both eggs and hares are fertility symbols from ancient times. Since birds lay eggs in early spring and rabbits give birth to large litters during that same time of year, the egg and the hare became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth as the March Equinox approached.
Although the Easter season has its roots in the pre-Christian era, Easter is now widely associated with Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus. In one way or another, Spring has always been the time to honor and celebrate the cycle of life, to affirm that from death springs the hope of new life. The cycle is repeated literally and metaphorically again and again during our lifetime in various ways, but none more poignant than in the passing of loved ones and the births of new babies.
Last summer, we were elated to learn that our son and daughter-in-law were expecting their first child, a boy, in mid-February. We immediately began making plans to travel to Seattle to be with the newest member of the family shortly after his arrival.
As the due date grew near, the doctor determined that a caesarian section was in the best interest of both Mom and Baby and scheduled one in early February — a full week prior to the due date. Even though we weren’t planning to be there at the birth, we cleared our calendars for the expected arrival so we could Face Time or Skype on a moment’s notice to properly greet our precious grandbaby.
Baby watch was temporarily set aside, however, with the news of my brother’s sudden passing on January 24. We made the trip back “home” to Chicago to honor his life and spend time in the comforting embrace of my large family.
As we prepared for my brother’s memorial service, I found my thoughts drifting back to a phone conversation we’d had back in September. Wally was excited to learn that we had a new grandchild coming and teased that a fifth grandson on the way meant the odds of adding a granddaughter to our family were growing slimmer by the year. He on the other hand had two granddaughters and hoped eventually to welcome a grandson.
Three hours before Wally’s memorial service began, I received an excited phone call from my son. Although the scheduled delivery of our grandbaby was still a week off, our daughter-in-law was unexpectedly in early labor and they would be heading to the hospital as soon as he could get home from work. Another call followed an hour later to let us know that they’d arrived at the hospital safely, labor was progressing rapidly, and arrangements were quickly being made for a C-section sometime in the next few hours.
Even though I knew leaving a cell phone on during a memorial service was a risk, it was unlikely, I rationalized, that the baby would make his appearance in the next 45 minutes, so there was really no reason to feel guilty. As a precaution, I asked my son to text me (rather than call) if the baby arrived during the service. I then quietly shared the news of the baby’s imminent birth and the text message arrangement with the minister who assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.
I’ve always loved the saying, “We plan; God laughs.” There I was, standing at the front of the church, sharing treasured memories of my younger brother when the clear ping of the cell phone rang out through the silent sanctuary. The minister beamed knowingly, while everyone else, clearly puzzled, turned around to locate the source of the inexplicably loud text notification.
I tearfully, but quickly, explained the interruption, sharing the exciting news. The timing had been absolutely perfect. The phone message wasn’t an interruption; it was an affirmation of life. People understood. And, even though both my husband and I tried several times to turn off the phone after its first ping; it refused to be silent, somehow turning itself back on and “pinging” three more times before the service ended.
The phone message, which we now lovingly refer to as “the text message from God” honored my brother’s memory by announcing the birth of a beautiful new life. It was the cycle of life in its most perfect manifestation: a loving farewell to Wally, a joyful welcome to baby Elliott.
Life never ends; it continues to renew itself. It can do nothing less. Each year, at this time, we are reminded in often surprising, but always beautiful, ways to celebrate the sacred cycle of life.
Pet a bunny, decorate an egg, and if you can, hug a baby! Happy Spring.
Linda M. Potter is a writer, a popular speaker and the author of If Only God Would Give Me a Sign! available at www.lindampotter.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and selected book stores. She will be speaking in Fort Collins, CO on Tuesday, April 9, 7p.m. as part of the Enlighten Up! series. Tickets are available at www.BellaSpark.com or by calling 970-443-0732.