LESLIE CRISS: Mite mess might have been avoided had I known about Marys

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

Editor’s note: This column was first published in the Daily Journal on April 19, 2003.

I talked to my niece last Sunday. She’s 5. And she seemed concerned about something she’d heard earlier in the day in Sunday school.
“Lee Lee, did you know that Jesus died? Some people killed him. They stuck a spear in his side.”
Wanting to remind her the story did not end there, I quizzed her.
“Remember what happened on Easter?”
Sure she did. “He rose up from the dead.”
“That’s right,” I told her. “And let me tell you something else and you remember this whenever anyone tries to make you think you are not important. The very first people Jesus talked with after he rose from the dead were girls, women.”
A short second of silence and then Bailey said, “That’s really cool. Girls rule.”

•••

When I was Bailey’s age Easter was all about shopping for a new dress, hunting colored eggs and going to church.
Easter was also about mite boxes.
I suppose mite boxes were an Episcopal thing – none of my Baptist brethren ever mentioned them.
Just before the Lenten season, our Sunday school teachers gave out flat pieces of cardboard that, folded the right ways, turned into a rectangular box. Into the box was supposed to go the change we saved from giving up something for Lent.
On Easter Sunday, a hollow, white wooden cross was placed in front of the church and all the children would go up and stack our mite boxes inside the cross.
The mite boxes by Easter were laden with coins and lovely with fresh flowers from home.
A painfully shy child, I did not find the presentation of mite boxes a pleasant procession. Still and yet, maternal management moved me forth.
I did not frolic forward like my friends; I found comfort in lagging behind. Until one particular Easter.
The last child to place a mite box in the cross, I searched for a spot where mine might fit. I placed it near the top and turned to flee back to the safety of my pew. Suddenly I heard a tremendous crash that sent coins of every denomination rolling. Then laughter.
When I reached the back of the church, I looked back through squinting eyes, thinking that would somehow lessen the horror.
A massive mound of mite boxes lay at the foot of the cross, and the priest, with no help from me, was trying to scoop them all up.
My mother still asks me why I didn’t go back and help pick up the mess. Fear, I suppose.
No one had told me all those years ago about how Jesus, upon his resurrection, appeared first to girls, women. That might have offered up some encouragement.
Perhaps I would not have been so afraid. Maybe I’d have even laughed.
And let the mites fall where they may.