This week, Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving. I will spend the day with relatives at our family’s hunting lodge in Clinton, Louisiana. I enjoy spending Thanksgiving Day at the family compound in the woods. The guys usually hunt, and the ladies do the cooking. We always pause and give thanks to God before we eat. It’s a good tradition. To stop and put into words that we are, indeed, thankful.
This week I am thinking about a lady named Easter. Until a few days ago, I didn’t know the story of Easter. I was eating tacos with my sister this weekend, and she told me the story. Over forty years ago, my sister, Jan, then twenty years old, was badly burned in a car accident. Jan spent many months recuperating in a burn unit in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Jan told me that Mrs. Easter was a burn patient, too. My sister kept hearing about Mrs. Easter from the staff. They would tell her nearly everyday, “Mrs. Easter wants you to know she’s praying for you.” Mrs. Easter was named for the holiday by her parents as she was born on Easter Sunday. My sister was young, a college student, and wasn’t all that interested in the woman with the strange first name and her reminders of daily prayers.
Then, one day, staff members wheeled Mrs. Easter’s bed into my sister’s room for a few hours while her room was being cleaned. For the first time, they met. Face to face, eye to eye. Jan saw that her fellow hospital patient was in far worse shape than she was. Her face was virtually gone. Yet, Jan told me, Mrs. Easter was quite interested in my sister’s well-being despite her own disfigured face and body.
Mrs. Easter didn’t leave the hospital alive. The story of the Christian holiday of Easter became a present reality for Mrs. Easter. She met her Jesus in whom she believed in with all her heart. She left a legacy of hope in my sister’s heart, who despite her outward protestations at Mrs. Easter’s prayers, had begun a journey of faith herself in that Baton Rouge burn unit.
Hope would carry my sister through surgeries, skin grafts, and countless hours of physical therapy. Eventually my sister returned to college, graduated, and became a pharmacist. She got married and had a family. Now retired from pharmacy, she owns and operates a small restaurant with her husband in Covington, Louisiana.
As I join with my family for Thanksgiving this week, undoubtedly I will have thoughts about mundane things like sweet potatoes, green beans. or fried turkey. I will think about the New Orleans Saints who are playing the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night. I know I will think of Easter on Thanksgiving, too.