March 20, 2017
Like most of us I remember many events from my childhood. Some of them related to Easter. But before we get to that, a little background. I spent four of the finest developmental years of my life in High School living in Hampton Township PA. I made friends there who influenced my life forever and many of them remain close and dear to me to this day. Across the road and up on a hill overlooking our isolated neighborhood was a large field surrounded by woods. There were many occasions when my friends and I hung out there. You know, doing kid things and on occasion doing things that we were not supposed to be doing. I’ll let you imagine, but we slept out there on occasion, we played with fire there, we… oh wait I can’t tell you that…. I have no idea who owned that piece of property. We never saw anyone up there. It was our own somewhat private “playground.” It is no longer accessible today that I am aware of. The woods were bulldozed years ago and there is at least one large home where “our” field used to be. Well, back to Easter.
My memories of Easter as a young child are all mixed together. I remember few specific moments… mostly just common events. Things like new clothes, flowers, bonnets, pictures, candy and even church, which was a rarity by the time I came along. With the advent of high school came some radical changes in my living arrangements, and my family (what was left of it) had no, none, nada, involvement with any church. Sunday was just another day and Easter was just another Sunday. That being said, several of my friends in the neighborhood and I became involved in Christian faith through a local (non-church related) youth group. To this day, many of us remain actively involved in churches and ministry.
One year (maybe when I was a senior) a friend suggested that we go up on the hill mentioned above, into the field and have our own Easter Sunrise service. That sounded strange but fun. For reasons that I don’t recall, I was asked to “preach.” The morning came and we trudged up the hill. I think there were only 5 or 6 of us. Unbeknownst to any of us, the friend who suggested the service had gone up the day before and erected a very tall Cross in the middle of the field. We held our service there. It was simple, short, and ill prepared. Sort of like my sermon that day. But it is the finest memory of Easter that I have. There is something about being with special friends in the shadow of the cross that’s life altering. Even now my eyes are teary as I recall that morning all those years ago.
My friend who built the cross and who suggested the service died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack a number of years ago. I had not seen him in a long time. If he were living, I would call him and remind him of that day. I would also tell him that it is one of my most cherished memories and I would thank him for the part he played in making it happen. I wonder, are there people you should call and tell about the impact they have had on your life? Seriously. I have never heard of anyone calling someone with that in mind and being rejected or laughed at. Mostly their efforts are met with humility and gratitude. I would greatly encourage you to make that call, send that email or text, or even snail mail. You will not be disappointed.
I pray that you have an amazing Easter with those whom you love. If you are not a church goer… hey, give it a try.
In loving memory of Doug Walter
And eternal gratitude to:
And of course Ellen.