Easter Morning at the Tomb & at Hardee’s

Last week, while reading the readings of Holy Week, I can across this piece of artwork. The image has stayed with me all week and helped me to imagine John and Peter as they ran to the tomb on Easter morning.

First a bit about the artist, Henry Ossawa Tanner, a son of a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Henry studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then in 1891, he moved to Francis because of racism limiting his career.

This image shows Peter and John, who “ran” to the tomb have arrived. Mary of Magdala had run to Peter and John and told them Jesus had risen from the tomb. Running, or ran, they were all on a mission. The moment the divine shone,
the world was changed for all time.

For the last three days, Jesus’ friends must have been sad, questioning, wondering, and pondering. Experiencing darkness until Mary came running with her good news, The Disciple of the Disciples! Mary had to share her news. Mary
brought hope just as Jesus had given her hope when he appeared to her.

Two Disciples at the Tomb illustrates so beautifully what that moment may have looked like. Peter the older, more experienced of the two couldn’t keep up with the young more fit John, who arrives first. But John did
not go in first, he waited for Peter, the leader, the more mature disciple. Peter goes in and sees Jesus is indeed gone. There the two stand before the empty tomb bathed in the soft, warm glow of the divine light of the world overflowing onto the two disciples. Today, we too are wrapped, bathed, and blessed by Jesus wrapping each of us in his divine warm, glow of light, mercy, and grace.

I wanted to share this beautiful artwork and while I was writing down my thoughts, I remembered the first Easter I ever had to work. I worked behind the counter at Hardee’s fast-food restaurant. Many of us employees complained we wanted to be home. We wanted to get our baskets and enjoy time and treats with our families. The boss said some people had to work and he wanted to be open for them. I was scheduled and I was not happy about it.

Halfway through my shift a dad and his kids walked in. By the wide smiles on the kids’ faces, you could tell they were excited to be at Hardee’s. There were four boys and one girl. I had seen the kids in the neighborhood. I knew the
family lived in a city-subsidized housing unit. There were five kids and no mom around. The oldest boy not much older than me had a job and he worked hard. Seeing them around the neighborhood they had old bikes usually too small for
their long legs. If their dad ever came into Hardee’s his hands were oil strained, rough, and sometimes had blisters from hard physical labor. My dad said he was a laborer at one of his job sites.

That day, their clothes were spic-and-span, their hair freshly combed, pressed dress shirts for the boys and the little girl had a frilly dress and ruffled Easter bonnet on. The father asked, “Where do you want to sit?” You would have thought this was a decision equal to a United Nations decision on where to send a boatload of aid. They walked one way and then back to the other side of the restaurant and finally have much debate landed at the corner booth bathed in sunshine. Dad came up to the counter and ordered six hamburgers and six small orders of French Fries and three small soft drinks. Dad shared with
his daughter, and the boys shared a drink. The family talked, giggled, and visited. They enjoyed their time together and dining out on Easter Sunday. When every single last crumb was gobbled up, they got up, threw all the wrappings
in the trash bin, thanked us, and headed out the door as a family wrapped in the light, mercy, and grace, of Jesus rising.

I will never forget a family who was so thankful to be able to enjoy an Easter dinner out at Hardee’s. This experience taught me to be thankful and feel extremely blessed for family and a home to have people over to celebrate around my Easter table.

And I was never sorry, ever again I was given the opportunity to work an Easter Sunday at Hardee’s.

This is a 1906 painting titled “Two Disciples at the Tomb,” by Henry Ossawa Tanner. The image has been released into the public domain via Creative Commons CC0 1.0, public domain dedication. (OSV News photo by Art Institute of Chicago/public domain)

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