That First Easter

That First Easter

My four sons and Liz, a daughter-in law had a numinous experience on Easter.  It was 1980 and my husband and their dad had died February 2nd.  Our grief was still an aching pain, but clinging to old customs somehow helped.

We’d met at our isolated cottage, “The Spring House”, to comfort each other.  We all loved games, and after playing a few and trying to cheer each other, I said, “How can we feel like it’s Easter without a Sunrise Service?” 

Nortons are always quick to grab a suggestion.  So one of them said:  “Okay, let’s do it!” The others agreed and we launched into planning.  We were energized! It seemed to all of us to be just the right thing to do, this year, to greet the dawn with an Easter Sunrise Service, affirming our belief in a risen Christ and for it to be “just our family”.

We tried to get to sleep early but, instead, we talked way into the night.  Finally, Wesley set up the coffee pot to come on right before dawn, and we headed for bed.  At the first whiff of coffee, Andy, the night-owl sneaked out of bed and put on the “Hallelujah Chorus” as loud as it would go, then fell back in his bunk.  Wendel got up and stretched, gave a soft laugh and turned it down a tiny bit, then stoked the fire in the wood stove.  Unbelievably, all of us were awake and in our heavy clothes, climbing up “Hideout Mountain” in ten minutes.

The air was damp with fog and the trees dripped moisture almost like a gentle rain.  It smelled so fresh with the fragrance of oaks and pines.  We climbed fast at first.  I was filled with emotion and began to think, “Am I going to have a heart attack?” Thankfully, we gradually slowed down and kept going until we reached a clearing- a sort of shelf.

There, the view across to the other hills was highlighted with shooting rays of pink and orange, clearing the dark away and foreshadowing a sunrise.  Without discussing it, we stopped and drank in the beauty of the heavens.

Each of us had accepted parts the night before, so we stood in a semi-circle facing the sky that was getting lighter and lighter.  One read scriptures, another a prayer.  Timmie had learned a short poem at school and Liz sang a haunting Easter hymn.  Then, we all sang, together, “He Lives” It was wonderful, alive! The sun peeped up from behind the mountain we faced, I started us singing, “He Arose” before I remembered Wendel’s version of it.  We began the verse.  Now we were all anticipating what was going to happen.  Everyone looked at Wendel.  We all joined voices strongly: “Up from the ground he arose- and then– he didn’t fail us, Wendel sang out alone- ”with a mighty triumph in his toes” and– we screamed in laughter with him and we laughed and laughed, until we stopped, exactly at the same time, almost like lightning had struck us. 

I don’t know how long we stood there looking at each other.   I’m not sure when we closed the gap and became a circle–then moved into a tight ringed hug of stillness.  Something had happened.  Something was unreal.  We were not alone! And each us had felt it.  Each of us knew who it was, Ferris, my husband and their dad had come among us.  Then, I believe we whispered of it, as we held each other close.

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This was a numinous experience.  What is numinous?  It comes in myriad forms.  Unexplainable happenings or callings or warnings or messages or more.  Let’s explore them as we share our own experiences with each other.

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