It must have been at least early spring, because it was just warm enough for me to walk from campus down to Mike and Wendy's apartment. Ginger and I hadn't even been married a year yet, and Isaac was probably 5-6 months away from our first introduction. That means Wendy was pregnant with McKaylee...
My strongest memory of that apartment was of getting a haircut from Wendy while I hunched over a garbage can. Outside. Probably sometime during that summer, before Mike left for Idaho.
I'm not sure why I was walking to their apartment that spring afternoon, but Ginger must have been there, waiting. It took me a long time to arrive. I was reading an essay called "Easter Weekend."
Written by Eugene England, it is to me the finest piece of non-fiction writing that I've ever read. I was taking a Mormon literature class from Dr. England at the time, and he had shared a copy of his latest work with his students, I think even before it had been published.
As someone at the time who was still very much "in process" of understanding what I believed and why, "Easter Weekend" came as a both a brisk but bracing affirmation of the intimate atonement of Jesus Christ.
Sometime later that semester, Brother England showed me why it wasn't just words on a page to him. I had just finished yet another assignment late for his class, and I remember running to his office to slip it under the door, hoping for yet another "pardon." Almost instantly, his office door flew open and there he stood, my jumbled attempt at an essay clutched in his hand.
"Thank you for getting this to me," he said, smiling knowingly. I mumbled some lame excuse and thanked him for accepting it. Then the stunner. "When I'm done reading it, I'd be happy to bring it by your house and we could talk about it. Would that be okay?" To this day I don't think I answered him, too stunned was I to absorb the grace he was extending. I must have said "no" or "I'm okay" (stupid!!) because he didn't end up coming by. But the impression he left still lives where such tender mercies find place. Sadly, Brother England died of brain cancer several years ago, but left a body of work that to my mind will never be equaled.
I've since tried to read the essay at least once a year, usually at Easter time. And I still aspire (hopelessly) to puts words together as Gene England did. The piece is available in its entirety on Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought's website. Their reader is a little bit clunky, but I promise you it'll be worth the effort, and then some. Just type "Easter Weekend" into the search window and you'll be on your way. It starts on page 19, in case you have difficulty in finding it.
With the fearsome struggle now facing the world, we need more than ever to have something both firm and soft to provide us with hope and confidence. As Mormon taught, "What is it that ye shall hope for?" His answer was, of course, the only answer: "Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ." May that hope and its power be yours, this Easter weekend and always.