Easter? Not harebrained to me.

By the time you read this, the Easter Bunny will have come and gone. If you’re skimming the paper very early this morning, he might be finishing up his night’s work in a time zone far to the west. But he won’t be back in Vermont for another year — which is a good thing, given the potholes and frost heaves that mark our paved roads in late March, and the way the dirt ones can be car-sucking sludge. Trust me: None of that can be comfortable on a rabbit’s delicate paw pads.
A lot of people presume the expression, “mad as a March hare,” derives from the male hare’s rather frantic desire to find a female when the days are finally longer than a sitcom, but the reality is that the expression goes back to the Easter Bunny’s annoyance that some years he has to race around the world in March. Frankly, March is a lousy time to travel.
Unfortunately, Easter is one of those holidays that moves around. This year it’s March 23. Next year it’s April 24. Why so fluid? Simple: Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21). It’s not unlike the way super delegates are chosen.
In any case, the result is that some years the Easter Bunny is hopping through serious slop. I live in a house with no mud room, and when Easter comes this early, I can usually tell whether he has arrived in Lincoln closer to midnight or dawn by how dry the mud is in the trail from the front door to the Easter baskets.
Still, the Easter Bunny has it easier than Santa Claus. I fly a lot, and if the captain ever announced on the intercom while we were on the tarmac that it was a foggy December night but we shouldn’t worry because we had a reindeer with a red nose to guide us, I would exit pronto down that emergency slide over the wing.
I love Easter, even if it is one of those holidays that is completely — and I am choosing this word carefully — unreasonable. I have friends who are mystified by the reality that I’m a practicing, once-was-a-deacon, ran-the-Sunday-school Christian. Not long ago this was brought home to me when a friend of mine, a woman in her early 30s who had been in a musical with my teenage daughter, told me she was worried that the near nudity and sexual innuendo our daughter was exposed to backstage might be troubling to my wife and me.
I told her that it was fine: Our daughter was 9 when she first started seeing adults moon each other across the wings when they weren’t on stage.
Likewise, there are people who wonder how I reconcile an apparent bookishness with my faith. They question how I square a distinctly perverse (and, on occasion, dark) sense of humor with a belief in God. Often they are also more than a little incredulous that I am so comfortable celebrating my faith publicly in this very space.
But I have never seen any conflict between humor and faith; nor do I believe that learning and faith are incompatible. The same goes for science. Recently I heard Francis S. Collins appear on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. Collins is a geneticist who headed the Human Genome Project and a scientist who believes he saw evidence of God daily in his work — in the miracle of how precisely and beautifully genes fit together. Collins is author of the best seller, “The Language of God,” in which he discusses how science and faith are reconcilable, and how the nearly universal desire among people to make the right moral decision (or at least understand there is a right moral decision) suggests there is indeed divinity out there.
I agree. And so today, once again, I will celebrate a miracle. I will celebrate with song and sermon and joy — and, yes, with chocolate eggs, marshmallow peeps, and the vision of a bunny who moves at unimaginable speed through Green Mountain muck.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on Sunday, March 23, 2008.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.

One thought on “Easter? Not harebrained to me.

  1. Neil says:

    And so the chocolate Jesus is not an abomination or an affront but rather like art, for our consideration and enjoyment. Happy Easter.

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