She couldn’t wait to show us; when we picked her up, she urged us to take them back to her room and hide them so she could search for them. She hurriedly skipped out to the parking lot, swinging her bright pink basket front to back, singing back to us, “Hide them and find them!”
That’s when a bright blue egg jumped off the neon green plastic grass cushion and fell to the concrete with a dull splat. White spider-web crack patterns shone through the blue-sky dye. “Uh oh,” she said.
“Oops,” I said. “Better throw that one away.”
“It will still hide!” she insisted.
“No, it won’t,” I explained, “the smell will give it away.”
The next casualties came when a bright yellow egg shifted from atop two other eggs and dropped with a crunch onto another blue egg.
“Now I don’t have any blue ones!” she lamented.
These eggs didn’t even leave the basket. Her enthusiasm just for carrying the eggs turned that little basket into a production of Ten Little Indians. It doesn’t take much for an excited child to damage eggs. The irony is that the more colorful and beautiful they are, the more excited she is, and the more likely to damage them. If the goal had been egg survival, then we shouldn’t have dyed them.
That wasn’t the goal, of course. The goal was her excitement and fun, and it was roundly accomplished. The eggs didn’t last long, and I suppose her excitement didn’t really, either. But it was worth it to see her skipping down the sidewalk with her Easter basket. That was a beautiful moment. An extravagant waste of eggs for one lovely moment of joy.
Love is like that. Fragile and easily broken, less likely to survive the more beautiful and colorful it is. But survival isn’t really the goal of love. We so often fool ourselves into thinking that our love’s delicate nature demands we protect and shelter it instead of the opposite: that we lavish it upon others with little regard for the return in yields. Love is most extravagant when we freely and gladly give it away without concern for who might drop it or crack it or carelessly mishandle it. I would say love is extravagant when we waste it, but truthfully love is only wasted when we protect it.
This Easter season, I am reminded of the connection between love and brokenness. Love seeks out the broken, and the broken allows the magnificent radiance of love to shine through more sharply. Love gives of itself with extravagant wastefulness, without any frugality or shrewdness. Love does not save itself away for a rainy day; love does not perform cost-benefit analysis; love does not seek dividend investment returns. Love is a gift, a handout, a free meal, a carefully dyed Easter egg that won’t even make it to the car.
If I’d chided my mother on wasting an entire carton of eggs on my daughter’s Easter basket – she could have just done a few – I know exactly what she would have said to me. “Honey, they’re just eggs. I can get more.” But even if she couldn’t get more, even if those had been the last eggs on earth, I suspect she would still have dyed them and given them away without regret. We will always have that image in our hearts of her skipping down the walkway with her Easter basket, happy and joyful and excited. That is love. Fragile and fleeting, which is exactly why we give it away without second thought. It does nothing waiting pale and cold in the darkness.
My child will have moved on from her Easter eggs before long, I’m sure. That’s fine; there will be new joys awaiting her around the corner. I believe that there will be plenty of love for her in her life, just as I know there will be brokenness and frailty. That is what makes those moments so pure and powerful. We will remember the love we give away and celebrate our willingness to be broken and cracked for others. And in a parking lot somewhere there are tiny shards of bright blue egg shells bringing just a little bit of color to an otherwise drab slab of concrete.