Easter & Dressing Up for Church by
(21 Stories)

Prompted By Faith

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When I was a child, Easter was primarily about church and a pretty dress. This photo helps explain why. I’m the older girl. My mom has a great hat, don’t you think? I’m pretty sure she made the white tulle flowers herself. My little sister is not a fan of this project, and in another photo, she can be seen with her skirt up and her (probably) rubber pants front and center. I wonder who took this photo of us, in May 1965, my sister barely two, me not quite five. What’s amazing to me when I look at this photo is that my parents were still both in their twenties. We are on our way to Grace Episcopal Church in Newton, Massachusetts.

Faith takes the form of Easter hats, nursing uniforms, Bach and carrot soup.

When I was in my twenties, Easter was mostly about eating dinner with someone’s parents. My folks, my first-husband’s folks. Someone’s grandparents. If I went to church it was to sing with my parents at their church. Or, I might have been working: as a nurse’s aid, a nursing student, or later as a newly-minted nurse. That involved a different kind of dressing up in a different kind of church. This awesome photo is from the De Anza College Nursing Pinning Ceremony in 2010. Mine was in 1987. Those photos are lost (which might be a good thing).


This photo is from a church directory, approximately 1989. My parents and my brother. No more hats, but my dad’s still in a tie.

Church 9-22-89 lower res

Now my kids are in their twenties. This year, my husband and I woke up to an empty house — our daughter at work, our son at his girlfriend’s place. We listened to Bach’s Cantata “Christ Lag in Todes Banden” (here’s an amazing performance by John Eliot Gardner), baked sourdough cinnamon buns, and then I did the ironing while Bob worked in the garden. No chocolate. No baskets. No egg hunt. No church, except the one we have made ourselves from love, music, and the California sunshine. My dogwood tree is bursting with pale yellow flowers in the front yard, one purple iris is ready to open under the young apple tree. Getting dressed for Easter will mean showering before dinner: carrot soup and salad from the garden.

Faith for me is something that humans “do” – we get dressed up, we hang out with family, we cook and eat together. We do it when we don’t want to, when we are sad, when life is full of ugliness and pain. For me, there is the extra bonus of music and poetry and art to practice and have faith in. I have faith that I am loved and that I love. As my friend Ellen said, in her Facebook post this morning, Jesus would probably have liked this.



Profile photo of Jennifer Swanton Brown Jennifer Swanton Brown
Poet. Nurse. Teacher. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Knitter. Swimmer. Contemplative in training. Follow "A Twirly Life" (twirlyword.wordpress.com).

Tags: Easter, Easter hats, church, Bach, John Eliot Gardner, nurses, nursing school, student nurses, carrot soup
Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    How simple and pure to place your faith in love and art. I like your church.

  2. PZ says:

    I don’t know about Jesus, but I like this. Love the Easter bonnets and your Mom’s long white gloves!! You remind me how much I looked forward to the new dress and hat every year–it really was a celebration of spring even if there was still some snow on the ground.

  3. Susan says:

    Your new Easter routine honors the coming of spring in its essence, welcoming flowers and fresh garden greens.

  4. mike7353 says:

    Sweet. Yes, part of faith is how you wear it, I believe.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    I sang “Christ Lag In Todes Baden” at camp in 1967. It was the first time I ever sang in German and it was HARD, but beautiful. As I wrote about faith, I find deep meaning in singing. It is clear that you find it in music too, and communing with nature, food and friends. Works for me.

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