Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Easter Walk

It was all the chasing of kids in the front yard. The yelling for wanderers, the screeching, the dawdling, the back-arching, the wailing. By the time I snapped, wrangled, and cranked everyone into their car seats, I was wondering, is this worth it?

I flopped into the driver's seat and of course, it began to rain. The tin on the car roof - the drops splashing onto the windshield - were deflating. But everyone was strapped in and I wasn't about to reverse the process.

"Who's ready to be a good sport and do our Easter Walk in the rain?" I asked with energy.

"Me! Me! Me!" three voices squealed from the back.

"Alright then!" I said. And I ran inside, grabbed two umbrellas, and told the team we were forging ahead.


Our Easter Walk has become my favorite Easter tradition. Based on this book by Deborah Pace Rowley, it's a short "Treasure Hunt for the real meaning of Easter."

You can do it anywhere - a park, a wooded trail, your own backyard.


We chose my Mother's yard for its wide spaces, the variety of flowers, the fruit trees in bloom, and her garden lying fallow. It's a nature preserve of its own.

Rowley's book tells the tender story of a young family who recently lost their mother. Their Grandfather starts a thoughtful tradition that the children look forward to each year. He takes them on an Easter walk and they look for "treasures" that tell the story of the Savior's last week - a journey that reminds them they will see their mother again.


I showed the girls a few pictures from the book then sent them out to find their first treasure.


Something pointy and sharp that represented the crown of thorns. They found a clipping from one of my Mother's rose bushes.

"And they clothed him in purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head" (Mark 15:17).


Next they found some wood (or something made of wood) to represent the cross.

The girls discovered a pile of kindling by the fire pit and to my surprise, tossed on top was an old branch with rusted nails.

"And [Jesus] bearing his cross went forth into a place called...Golgotha: Where they crucified Him" (John 19:17-18).


I didn't think to take a good picture, but it provided an excellent teaching moment. I explained that the soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross, that he could have called down a band of angels to defend him, but he didn't. He chose to die for us. "He must really love us to go through pain like that" I said.


Sami and Eliza then found these dead leaves and flowers - reminders of the Savior's death.

"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into they hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Luke 23:46).

I had to explain what "gave up the ghost" meant and what happens to our bodies when our spirits depart - but each clue was accompanied by such a gorgeous illustration by Dan Burr (from the book), it made the telling easier - the explanations more meaningful.


Next, Eliza found this piece of charred wood in the fire pit - something black to represent the darkness that fell over the earth after the crucifixion, as recorded in both The New Testament and The Book of Mormon.

"And there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst" (Luke 23: 44-45).


Ali found our rock - a smooth gray one to represent the stone placed in front of the tomb.

A friend of Jesus "wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre" (Mark 15:46).


And the final clue was the girls' favorite - something alive and beautiful to represent Christ's resurrection.

Eliza picked a white daffodil.


Ali found a handful of snow glory.


And Samantha picked a bright pink hyacinth. We crowded around her treasure to breathe its rich scent. The hyacinth is one of those smells from my childhood - a smell that conjures up all sorts of Easter memories and the fun of hunting for Easter baskets outside.

"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matthew 28:5-6).


This small replica sits on my Mother's mantle. She bought it on Ben Yehuda street while visiting Jerusalem.

As I loaded everyone into the car to go home for lunch, I felt different. More patient, more grateful. These kind of moments don't just happen. We have to push past the inconvenience. Parenting is effort, intention, and choosing to do things on purpose.

"How did you like our Easter Walk?" I asked the girls.

They roared happy cheers and chattered over their favorite finds. The rain didn't bother them. It didn't bother me. In fact, the whole experience filled me in a very whole and satisfying way. Seeing my girls develop an understanding of why we celebrate Easter was worth every back-arch, every wail, every pre-car seat chase.

"We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26).


If you'd like to do your own Easter Walk, here are the six clues. You can make up your own clues if you'd like - you don't need Rowley's book - but I must say it's been a lovely addition to our library.

Clue 1: Mark 15:17 - Something pointed and sharp to represent the crown of thorns.

Clue 2: John 19:17-18 - Something made of wood to represent the cross.

Clue 3: Luke 23:46 - Something dead to represent the Savior's death.

Clue 4: Luke 23: 44-45, 3 Nephi 8:23 - Something dark to represent the darkness in Jerusalem and in America.

Clue 5: Mark 15:46 - Something hard and round to represent the stone placed in front of the tomb.

Clue 6: Matthew 28:5-6 - Something alive to represent that Jesus Christ is alive again.

Easter Blessings,


  1. What a beautiful idea! I love it! I have been looking for ways to make Easter more spiritual, and I think this will be a perfect thing to do Easter morning. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Your blog is a blessing. I love it.

    Thank you for sharing this idea!

  3. I love this! I'm adding the "Easter Walk" to my How To Raise Righteous Kids rock collection!

  4. This is a really great idea! We are totally going to do it! I was a little worried about having to find something alive, here we are still struggling out of a long winter...but the grass is starting to grow again so they can use that. I think I will wait until my brother and his kids come so we can do it together!

  5. What a fabulous idea. I love the symbolism. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I just wanted to add...that picture of your daughter with the pink hyacinth is darling. What a beautiful tradition. At the beginning of your story, you mentioned the idea of feeling like, "is this worth it?". I totally know what you mean. I have been there so many times....and I am so grateful for the little moments of grace that give me hope that yes, my kids are listening and soaking up some of it all. Our family home evening was just a simple reading of different excerpts from the latter part of John...and talking about what bits of the intercessory prayer meant (I've got some older ones), and it was one of our best FHE lessons yet. I was so thankful...we've had lots of ones that felt like chaos, fatigue, irritation, and frustration all wrapped into one messy package. We've also been reading excerpts from the four gospels for our family scripture reading this month, and I've loved reviewing parts of Christ's life.

    I love your "Easter Walk" tradition and hope to do something like it.

    I hope you enjoy's been so many years since I read it, but there is lots of beauty in there.

  7. Bonnie - Doug says we're working on a date to get together. Finally!

    Georges - thanks for your sweet comment.

    Lauren - Tell me more. I want to hear about your rock collection!

    Rachel - Wow. And I thought we were having the longest winter here! Yes, grass will do. Even the sight of green grass can be exciting, right?

    Anne Marie - "little moments of grace that give me hope" - I suspect I will understand this even more as my children get older. What a wonderful FHE you had! John has been my favorite of the four gospels as I've re-read the last week of the Savior's life this month. With John 17 of course and the very detailed conversation Christ has with his disciples in the preceding chapters, I just find it so tender. And I love how John refers to himself anonymously as "the disciple Jesus loved." Walking arrived yesterday. I'll let you know how it goes!

  8. thank you for sharing this great idea. i had the grandkids go outside and collect we'll share their finds.

    cath, these photos of your girls are precious. so so sweet. xox

  9. Adding it to my collection of things to do when my son is older.

  10. how i wish i could have seen you this week!!! i really miss you. love this idea.

  11. Oh, Cath, I started The Help (you had mentioned it a while back). I am in love with the characters she's creating. Thank you, thank you.

    Have you ever heard of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? It's a memoir written by a mama of 6 kids and is all about her attempts to see God's hand in her life. I am in the middle of that one and am blown away by the language (I sometimes have a few books I am reading at the same time....savoring bits here and there). It's a delightful read so far. You are such a gifted writer and might enjoy the language in it.

    Happy Easter to you and yours!

  12. Cristie - you are such a good grandma! xo

    Jen - loved perusing your blog. Keep writing!

    Erin - ditto. ditto. next time, eh?

    Anne Marie - Yes - I follow Ann's blog. Her words give life - speak light, every post, every thought. I've had her book sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple months now. I've been saving it for a May post. So glad you're enjoying it. Makes me want to dive in sooner now! Have you seen her weekly gratitude journal?

    I am planning to print one for each of my girls. If I'd been more on top of things we would have done it this week. Anyhow, I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts about Ann's book. And The Help - yes - aren't the characters magnificent?

    Happy Easter to you too dear friend.

  13. We should have done this. Our Easter tradition consists of . . . candy. Next year!

  14. What a lovely tradition!! I'm so filing this away for next year...

  15. I am a friend of Fiona's and loved your post. Thanks so much. I have often wanted a really good Easter tradition like this.


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