A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
THE EASTER OF THE LAVENDER HAT
For as long as I can remember, Easter Sunday has been my favorite day to go to church. I was almost always able to smuggle a few pieces of Easter candy into the meeting, and the way I saw it, anything is tolerable if you're munching on malted milk eggs and chocolate bunnies. Even church.
I also liked the fact that on Easter, there was usually more singing than preaching at church. The music of Easter is great -- lots of "Hosannas" and "Alleluias" -- and much more uplifting than most Easter sermons.
Heck, just watching our church choir was worth the price of admission, from that hangy-down thing that wobbled on the underside of Ione Merrill's arm while she led the choir to the way Stan Smith's whole head turned purple as he strained to reach the highest tenor notes.
But the best thing about Easter was the impromptu fashion show that took place as members arrived wearing their Easter finery. For those few minutes, the girls and women in our congregation were super models, and the church aisle was their runway. And the most super of the super models was Ginger MacDonald, one of the eldest and most respected members of our congregation. Tall and stately, with bright red hair, this handsome woman commanded attention even in a plain black dress (tastefully accessorized, of course). But on Easter, she stole the show, with colorful outfits and huge hats that could have been spotted from Sputnik.
Especially on the Easter of the lavender hat. Actually, Ginger's entire outfit was lavender, including lavender shoes and gloves, a sweeping lavender dress and a lavender purse the size of a small continent. But it was her lavender hat, complete with lavender veil, that got my attention.
I couldn't help it -- Ginger and her hat were sitting right in front of me. It was shaped like a satellite dish, with the bottom brim extending down the back of her pew, almost to my knees. I couldn't even cross my legs without bumping the hat, and that prospect frightened me. If I bumped it, it might tumble off her head, and who knows how many people would be crushed if that thing started rolling?
I couldn't see and I couldn't move, but I could eat, so I focused my attention on the goodies in my pockets. I unwrapped the first treat and popped it into my mouth, and without thinking I put the empty wrapper in Ginger's hat. I wasn't trying to be malicious; it's just that this big lavender dish was right there in front of me, and it seemed like the thing to do. I continued eating candy and stashing the wrappers in the lavender trash receptacle until it was time for the choir to sing. By this time there was a good-sized pile in there, and it startled me when it started to move. I tried to grab the wrappers, but it was too late. They were now part of an otherwise all-lavender Easter ensemble.
Those who hadn't seen Ginger smiled and nodded as she grandly made her way to her place in the choir. Smiles turned to giggles, however, when she walked past and revealed the pile of garbage in the back of her hat.
Ginger seemed unaware of the stir she was causing until a well-meaning choir member scooped the wrappers out of her hat and handed them to her, whispering a word of explanation. To her credit, Ginger's pleasant expression never changed, but I was sure I could see mayhem in her eyes as she sought me out and fixed me with her oh, so charming gaze.
I prayed fervently, but God chose to ignore my pleas to make the choir's song last forever. When the song ended and choir members began returning to their seats, I braced myself for the reaction I knew was coming.
Instead, Ginger looked at me, smiled and winked, then she picked up her big lavender purse and put the wrappers in it. And she never mentioned the incident again.
I learned an important lesson about forgiveness that day -- a lesson in lavender. And what better day than Easter for a lesson like that?
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--- © Joseph Walker
Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.