Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter: New and Renewed Life


I think the story of my own birth is a good way to begin a discussion on new life. I was born in Baba's house on a September Saturday in 1944. It was suppertime, and my Mom couldn't wait for her favorite meal, steak smothered in onions, and mashed potatoes drenched in butter. Unfortunately her water broke and sent her into labor,denying her the pleasure of actually eating the dinner she'd looked forward to all day. Instead she retreated to her upstairs bedroom and waited for Dr. Stimetz to arrive. Since the good doctor lived next door, she was by my mother's side in minutes. As Mom pushed, and the rest of the family nervously waited in the hallway, eventually I entered the world, kicking and screaming, or so I'd been told over and over again while growing up. 

PASKA
http://tinyurl.com/ke3fzrl
After thoroughly examining the newly-born babe, Dr. Stimetz handed me over to Baba to be cleaned and clothed. As my grandmother whisked me down the stairs and into her kitchen, she secretly rejoiced over the fact that I was a girl. Again, I know this because over the course of many years, she mentioned it at least a million times. Baba filled her huge mixing bowl with warm water, and carefully placed me inside its white walls. This was the same bowl she used every Easter when making the dough for Paska, the special Slovak bread we enjoyed only once a year during the holy season of the Resurrection. As she gently washed the afterbirth from my tiny body, Baba noticed that I appeared to be struggling to breathe. She placed me in a soft towel, dried me, and then rubbed a dollop of Vicks salve under my nose. However, because of the powerful strength of the vapors, instead of alleviating the congestion, I turned blue and stopped breathing altogether. To have this precious new life for such a short time was something my Baba refused to accept. Quickly she began CPR. Within seconds, I let out a garbled cry, and voraciously began sucking air into my deprived lungs. When Dr. Stimetz entered the kitchen, she found my Baba clutching me closely to her bosom with tears streaming down her face. In a shaky voice, she told the doctor what she had done. Dr. Stimetz comforted Baba by saying that this infant was destined to do something special since she had been given new life twice in the course of just one day, a rare medical occurrence by any standards. Whatever it was that I was meant to accomplish, I hope I've made at least some strides in fulfilling my purpose. From that life-saving moment on, my Baba and I shared a unique bond that only grew stronger and stronger with every passing year, and will remain alive and well always and forever.

Spring and Easter are favorites of mine perhaps because they arrive together with warm temps, gentle breezes, and soft rains. Both the season and the holiday are symbolic of new and renewed life. Whether coming into the world newborn, or awakening from a winter's sleep, all life is pure and fresh again. There is a joy and lightness of spirit that fills the Earth unlike at any other time of year.