The winner of my Easter Essay Contest is Dr. Joanna Seibert. Here’s what I love about this (in addition to her essay):
After following my blog for a while, Joanna decided to email me and introduce herself a couple of months ago. Turns out we have so much in common, and when she and her husband were visiting Memphis recently, they invited me to meet them for lunch at Paulette’s, just two blocks from my house here in Harbor Town. What a joy that visit was! (see photo) Thanks so much, Joanna, for getting in touch, and for sharing your Easter story.
Dr. Joanna Seibert is a professor of radiology and pediatrics at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences and has been an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas for thirteen years. She has served as a deacon at St. Margaret’s, Trinity Cathedral Little Rock, and was assigned to St. Luke’s North Little Rock in 2011. She is the author of several books including, The Call of the Psalms, a spiritual companion for busy people and The Call of the Psalms, a spiritual companion for people in recovery, (both available from Temenos Publishing) and Healing Presence (with a preface by Keith Miller and a forward by Phyllis Tickle). She is a facilitator for the Community of Hope and Walking the Mourner’s Path and is especially involved in recovery ministries in the Episcopal Church and the diocese conference center, Camp Mitchell. Joanna and her husband have three grown children and six grandchildren and have lived in Little Rock for thirty-seven years.
And now for the winning essay:
By Joanna Seibert
I was born on Easter Sunday. My name is Joanna. My parents had intended to name me Jo Anna after my mother’s parents, Joe and Anna. Before my mother woke up from her anesthesia at my birth my father put Jo and Anna together and added in a middle name, Marie. This is a statement about my parent’s relationship, which most probably began before my birth. Marie was my father’s favorite sister who was married the day before I was born. My father missed most of the wedding celebration because of my impending arrival, so I guess I was his wedding present to his sister!
The first Easter I remember is in a picture that I keep as a sacred place on my desk. It is the Easter before my brother was born, so I must have been barely two years old. I am standing in front of our first house by the Mattaponi River at the corner of Second and Lee Streets. The screened in front porch is in the background with maybe an Easter basket on it. There is a scruffy shrub to my right side. My head barely reaches the floor of the screened in porch. The small photograph is in black and white, and the silver from the photograph over the years has transformed the clear plastic cover to a grayish yellow color, leaving parts of the picture mystically missing and other parts without as much light, giving the photograph an overall Easter film noir look. I think the woven brim hat I am wearing is white with a black ribbon around it.
My memory is that the coat I am wearing is a light pink wool with fake pockets and big buttons. The coat falls not quite evenly just above my knees. I am sure that one of my sweet grandmothers made my Easter coat. My left shoulder looks slightly higher than the right. The tips of my hands are barely seen, sheltered under the coat as my arms stand straight almost at attention by my side. I am wearing a little homemade corsage on my left lapel. I cannot make out the flower, but I think it may be a small rose. Circling my neck and overlapping the coat is a ruffled white collar with a small black bow that must be the top of my homemade dress that is otherwise in secret beneath my coat. I cannot see my feet, but my legs are looking good. My eyes are wide open and my straight blonde hair has been curled, most probably with toilet paper the night before. I have a look of serene panic on my face as if I do not know what will happen next, but I will be ready.
This picture has become my inner child. I long to meet her once again some day. For right now I keep her by my side always on my desktop right next to my Apple, trying to let her know all is well, no harm will come to her. It is Easter, a celebration of new life overcoming death. She will never ever be abandoned again. We will go shopping for her new Easter outfit. I will tell her the Easter story and remind her how much she is loved. I will bring her flowers, violets or tulips or daffodils, go to an Easter egg hunt with her, give her a noisy gong to ring at the Easter Vigil, gather more flowers for her, maybe azaleas from our backyard, to flower the cross on Easter Day, ask her if she would like to sing with the other children at the Easter Day service, secretly leave for her a little extra chocolate at the Easter Brunch, rest with her in the afternoon, play with her the next day on Easter Monday, maybe even go to a movie. She is my inner child, born on Easter Sunday. I will remind her that Easter Day next year will again be a celebration of her birthday. Her real name is Jo Anna, and she is very loved especially by those whose name she wears.
Blessed Holy Friday, everyone. I hope to see you right back here on Bright Monday.