Having a birthday close to the Easter holiday, I was often given presents with an Easter theme. This particular year, in the seventh grade, I received a stuffed chick, who I named Selma, and a wind-up rabbit, who I named Peter Cotton-fuzz. (My mother’s interpretation of the song Peter Cotton-tail included the line, “Here comes Peter Cotton-fuzz, best little bunny that ever was…)
I opened the gifts during our lunch hour and the excitement was carried into our next class, Choir, with Mr. Dehlin. Before the bell rang, we passed around my new friends in the alto section.
We were learning the song America the Beautiful. Stoked with lunch hour enthusiasm, and possibly sugar, it was difficult to focus seriously on the anthem at hand. Mr. Dehlin tapped the music stand with his baton. We forcefully suppressed our laughter to smiles and began to sing. Then came the line, “Oh, beautiful, for pilgrim feet…” and we lost it. Pilgrim feet. Tap, tap, tap. Stronger this time. We began again. Our volcanic laughter sputtered inside, and when we reached the pilgrim feet, it burst through each section, flowing from the altos to the sopranos, and soon the whole choir was laughing.
The top of Mr. Dehlin’s head was turning a bright red and he beat the baton on the music stand. He loved music, and this was something to be taken seriously. We loved music too, but the pressure was just too much. He slapped his hand on the piano, and the room was silent. Silent, but for the click of my windup bunny that came to life and was hopping across the second aisle. No one breathed. Then he began to laugh. Mr. Dehlin began to laugh. There was joy in this room and he couldn’t deny it. We all felt it. And soon we sang, with all certainty, that it was indeed Beautiful!
Happy Easter, everyone. Celebrate this day with love and laughter and the volcanic, contagious joy of a child! For it is beautiful! Today, and every day!