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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vin


I cracked an egg into a small pan that was sizzling with yellow butter. I lower the flame and watch the clear liquid turn white around the golden yolk, as I thought about what I had just heard on the radio.

A woman had collected many pysanky, which are Ukrainian decorated Easter eggs, and smuggled them away for safekeeping when she recently fled Ukraine. This ancient pagan tradition of painting eggs in beeswax and dye was later adopted in the 9th or 10th century when Christianity flourished. In both pagan and Christian traditions, the egg symbolizes rebirth. On Good Friday, Christians mark the Passion of Christ, which follows Jesus’s journey carrying his cross and dying on a hill in Calvary. My husband and I stepped into a chapel, then went outdoors and followed at a distance from other small groups, as we visited the markers on the trail, each commemorating the Stations of the Cross. At one station, in the booklet that we held, it said, "He suffered, so that we may know that in our suffering, we are not alone. He is with us to help us endure.” I thought of headaches and bellyaches that I have had, of people suffering from illness, and especially of Ukrainians hiding in basements, freezing, cut off from food and water at this time.

I had read that on Easter Sunday, Ukrainians go to an all-night church service and take their wicker baskets, which are full of colored eggs. At about three or four in the morning, the priest blesses the baskets with holy water. One woman said, “It is a magical moment…It doesn’t matter whether you are religious or not, it’s a spiritual experience, a rebirth, a feeling that something new is happening.” They can't follow that tradition this year.

The woman who had recently collected the preserved pysanky eggs and taken them with her out of Ukraine said, “When this war ends, and it will end, and when I come back to Ukraine, and I will come back, I will bring back the pysanky and put them in the shells of churches, and burnt out schools and homes, as a symbol of rebirth.”

Today is Easter Sunday. I was lying in the hammock, watching two red-chinned hummingbirds above me. They flew and rested and flew again. I heard Tom Waits sing, “You can’t hold back Spring”, while my eye followed the rosebush on its ascent up the trellis. The branches and thorns curved and climbed, and braided through each other until they ended in white roses at the top. Above them only sky.

You can’t hold back Spring.

It lives in the song of a child singing in a bombed-out basement.

You can’t hold back Spring.

It lives in preserved eggs that will be returned to the homeland when the war ends.

You can’t hold back Spring.

It lives in a determined Soul, who will carry his heavy cross up the mountain.

You can’t stop the rosebush from climbing the fence, bursting into flower, and opening to the Sun.


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