It is the same every morning. I slip on my tall, green garden boots that wait patiently for me by the back door. I cringe as the door creaks to open, wishing I could snatch back the loud sound before it reaches my sleeping family. The morning fog moves so quickly that I wait for its curtain to rise and scatter into the sky, before beginning my walk to check on the hens. Mostly, I check for eggs. Mostly, I hope for eggs. Always, I find emptiness.
“Good morning, girls.” I greet them, and they reply with cheerful clucking. All of their chatter gently wakes me and helps me shake off the night’s sleep. It has been weeks, no, months, since we brought the chickens home to their coop. Yet each morning when I rise to meet them, hoping for eggs, I peer into their nesting box and find space, only emptiness.
It is Jewish practice for the bereaved to eat an egg for the first meal after the funeral. This egg is a symbol of circular fertility, meant to begin the painful work of reminding the griever that she will live, in spite of her loss. For most people, an egg is just an egg. But for one who is clinging to every sign and every symbol that there may be life again in the land of the living, this egg is sacred.
On Thursday morning, the boots were on, the door was creaking and the fog was rising. The hens were clucking and my sleep was shaking. Expecting to find, once again, the empty space of the nesting box, I mindlessly opened its lid. But on this morning, the emptiness was filled. A perfectly round, brown egg sat in its place. I held the egg and beheld the sacred. For most people, an egg is just an egg. But for me, this egg turned a Thursday morning of ordinary into an Easter morning of glory.