Saturday, April 4, 2015

Teatime Tale #14 - A Cup of Easter Tea

A Cup of Easter Tea

            Joanna had always loved going to church on Easter Sunday. She enjoyed seeing the little girls in their frilly dresses, Easter hats, and white patent leather shoes. She loved seeing the little boys looking cute but uncomfortable in their Easter suits and ties. She loved seeing women wear their pretty new Easter dresses, some of them with matching hats, and she loved hearing the choir’s soul-stirring hymns like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
            The highlight of the Easter service was always the sermon, in which the pastor inevitably talked about how God loved the world so much, he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross so that whoever accepted him could have the gift of eternal life.
            No matter how many times Joanna heard that message, she found that kind of love impossible to fathom. Her twin girls, Lindsey and Lauren, had just turned thirty, and Joanna couldn’t have imagined letting them die in place of someone else. As a mother, she had decided years ago that she would simply never be able to comprehend how God was able to sacrifice his only child. As a believer, she was immensely grateful that he had.
            The girls, both of whom had gotten married last year, lived nearby but were celebrating Easter with their respective in-laws out of town. Joanna had been a single mom since her husband left them all when the girls were three, and for the first time since she became a mom, she was spending the holiday by herself. She had always imagined she would spend most all holidays with her children, but she told herself she needed to let that dream die. The girls were married now and had lives of their own.
            She woke to a light rain on Easter morning, but she couldn’t be sad, because after all, it was Easter.
            Friends who had learned she would be alone had invited her to join them for Easter dinner, but she knew she would feel like a fifth wheel. They were thoughtful to invite her, and she was grateful for the offers, but she just wanted to go home after church and enjoy a quiet Easter afternoon.
            She’d bought a small ham at the grocery store and prepared it and some asparagus on Saturday, so after church she enjoyed a light meal and sank into the sofa for a nice nap.

            Mid-afternoon, Joanna decided to have a cup of Easter Tea. A friend who’d been to London recently had brought her back a tin of Fortnum and Mason’s Easter Tea blend, a wonderful black tea with marigold and sunflower blossoms. She prepared a cup of the tea and reached into the kitchen linen drawer for one of the hand-painted napkins she’d recently found at an antique mall.
            Joanna hadn’t paid much attention to the floral designs on the napkins when she purchased them, so she was surprised to realize the one she was using had pale pink dogwood blossoms on it. She had always loved the legend of the dogwood, which her mother had shared with her when she was a child. According to the legend, during the time of Jesus, the dogwood had become a giant tree with strong, firm wood. The wood was so sturdy, in fact, it was chosen as the wood for Jesus’s cross.
            The dogwood, however, was dismayed to find itself being used for such a horrid purpose. While hanging on the cross, Jesus sensed the dogwood’s shame and said, “Because of your sorrow over my suffering, you’ll never again grow large enough to be used as a cross. From today on, you’ll be slender and twisted, and your blossoms will take the shape of this cross—two long and two short petals, and with a crown of thorns in the middle.”
            As she sipped her Easter Tea and studied the dogwood blossoms on her napkin, she thought about some verses the pastor had shared during the morning’s sermon. He’d read from Luke 24. “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. … It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.”
            That revelation had just floored Joanna the first time she heard it.
            Why wasn’t John the first person to report back to the others? He was, after all, the one so many thought was the “beloved” disciple. And she could certainly have understood if the first person to discover the empty tomb had been Peter, the guilt-ridden disciple who had denied Jesus three times. If there was anyone who wanted to see Jesus alive and clear his conscience, it would have been Peter.
            But a group of women? Why had they been given that special honor of telling the good news? She had to admit she was especially interested because one of the women shared her name.
            Joanna sipped her tea and wondered if she would get to meet Bible Joanna in Heaven one day and ask her about that first resurrection morning. Why not? Maybe they’d even get to have a cup of tea together.
            Before she got much deeper in thought, her reverie was interrupted by the doorbell. Joanna stepped into the foyer, looked out the French doors, and was delighted to see Lindsey and Lauren and their husbands standing there.
            “What a surprise!” she said as she welcomed them inside.
            “Happy Easter, Mom!” the girls said.
            “Happy Easter yourself!” Joanna said, laughing and hugging them all. And it was, truly, one of the happiest Easters Joanna could remember, a day of good news from beginning to end—and forever.

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful and heart warming! So glad for Easter and the hope and promise it gives believers. Glad
    Lindsey and Lauren and their hubbies included Joanna in their Easter plans too! ;-)

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  2. What a beautiful story, Angela - so thought provoking. I find that Easter makes me think so much about faith and family:

    My Mom had so much faith and was such an inspiration to me. She passed away in August of 2014 and I think about her every day. I'm thankful I had such a caring Mom. She had such a positive outlook on life and never complained. Holidays were her specialties.

    On Easter, she made sure we had the prettiest dresses, making them herself. Dresses for the six daughters and a vest and bowtie for my brother Sean.

    My favorite dress was the year my Mom sewed us yellow-checked gingham outfits. They were adorable! Bright yellow-checked dresses with white collars, trimmed with yellow rick-rack and ribbons.
    Mom had even made us matching purses (she had been saving the plastic dish soap bottles, chopping off two inches at the base that served as the bottom of the purse. Then Mom sewed it up into a drawstring bag and trimmed it with rick-rack and ribbons, we were really "styling," especially with those fancy purses!

    Angela, I wish you could have met my Mom, you would have enjoyed visiting with her. Because of her Irish heritage, she could tell wonderful stories about her family (Mom was the youngest of 12) and oh-those-stories! And though Mom was frugal, she enjoyed tea and after my Dad had passed away, she moved from the family home in Miami to West Palm Beach. There was a very nice Ritz Carlton nearby and for family engagements or bridal showers, she had the nicest afternoon teas at that Ritz Carlton.
    One other Easter memory:

    Twenty-one years ago, on Easter Sunday, my son Nick was born. I was a first-time Mom, an older 1st timer and everything was so exciting. Since it was Easter, the nurses were giving out little bunnies (stuffed, of course!) I think I still have that bunny.

    That year Easter was on April 3rd and that's one Easter I will always remember. Thank you Angela for writing such vivid stories and for inspiring so many fond memories. Happy Easter to you and Alex and your family. Always, Joanie

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  3. hello Angela, a correction: my Mom passed away in August of 2013, not 2014. Joanie

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  4. Oh Angela, you are a sweet blessing to us with your wonderful teatime stories. Thank you.

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  5. Many fond memories of Easter during my childhood including a frilly dress with a matching purse! I enjoyed this story & the legend of the dogwood. Happy Easter.

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  6. Great story! Happy Easter!

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  7. Another lovely story. Happy Easter.

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  8. A lovely Easter story.
    And I was planning on sharing dogwood blossoms tomorrow on Facebook, perfect.

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  9. Just read this a.m. Enjoyed it so much. Happy Easter !!!!

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  10. Oh what a wonderful story! I am so happy for her - for all of us with The Promise - in every way.
    Beautifully written. Thank you, Angela!! ♥

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