Today we are celebrating a festival of spring, and the symbol is the egg. This is the “Spring Equinox,” a time when the days and nights are balanced and equal, just like both sides of the egg are equal.
This holiday is called “Ostara” the German word for “Easter.” This holiday is related to Easter, though Easter is sometimes celebrated much later in the Spring. A lot of the symbols and stories related to Easter are actually from the Spring Equinox festivals, which were celebrated by people long before Easter. Some people believe this holiday was named in honor of the German Goddess Eostre (Ee-oh-stray). This can remind us of a special story.
This is Diana and this is her friend Jack. Diana and Jack love to play together, and now that the days are getting warmer, they love to go on “Nature Hunts.” Together they search for all sorts of wonderful things in nature – bugs and flowers and bunnies and trees.
One day in March, Diana and Jack were on a Nature Hunt, and Jack began picking up rocks and twigs and flowers.
“What are you doing?” asked Diana.
“I’m making a nature collection. I want to take nature home with me.”
Diana wasn’t sure about this. Could you really collect nature? But she didn’t know what to say.
Soon Jack and Diana found a meadow full of flowers, and in this meadow they met a beautiful woman. She was “painting” the flowers with a magical flower wand.
The children were amazed to see the flowers magically changing color, but Diana recognized her as a Goddess and went to speak to her.
“Are you a Goddess?” Diana asked.
“I am,” she said. “I am the Goddess Eostre, and it is my job to paint the flowers of springtime.”
Just then the children saw a blue bird in the sky, and to their amazement, it too began to change colors.
“That bird is changing colors!” said Jack.
Eostre replied, “Yes, today is the first day of spring. Many wonderful things can happen today. All of the colors come to life today.”
Jack suddenly had an idea. He remembered that long ago he had a pet rabbit who he loved very much. He wanted to pet a rabbit again and keep it in his collection.
So he asked the Goddess, “Could you get me a rabbit to pet?”
She thought about it, but there was no rabbit hopping by. “I cannot make something out of nothing,” she said.
Jack thought about it and then asked, “What about that bird? Could you turn the bird into a rabbit?”
The Goddess answered, “Today my springtime magic is very strong, so I could. But to change the nature of a thing might change the balance of nature. Are you sure that is what you want?”
Jack answered, “Oh, yes please.”
And so the Goddess waved her flower wand, and the bird changed into a bunny rabbit.
“The bunny is changing colors too!” Jack exclaimed. He was very happy and enjoyed petting the bunny. But then the bunny began to cry.
Diana asked, “Why are you crying?”
And the bunny answered, “Because I loved being a bird. I loved being able to fly and lay eggs. I don’t know how to be a bunny.”
Diana asked the Goddess, “Please, could you turn her back into a bird?”
But the Goddess shook her head. The magic had already been used in one direction, and it would not be able to be changed until the next year at the coming of spring.
Jack felt bad because it was his idea to turn the bird into a bunny. “I guess you can’t own nature, he said. He also realized that he would not be able to keep the bunny, so he asked Eostre, “Could you take the bunny with you and take care of her?”
And the Goddess agreed. She would take the bunny with her to live in the moon until the next spring.
The following spring, as Diana and Jack went on another Nature Hunt. They were very careful not to damage the trees or animals they saw. Then they saw something colorful peeking out of the grass. Hoping to meet the Goddess and the Bunny again, they ran to see.
They found beautiful, glorious eggs, and they knew that the Bunny had been changed back into a bird just for the one night, and that she left these eggs for them as a reminder to always respect the balance of nature.
And some days, if they looked just right, they could see the bunny in the moon.
Like the Neo-Pagans, we Unitarian Universalists believe that the balance of nature is important, and we honor that balance at the Spring Equinox.
I wonder if you have heard any of this story before?
I wonder which part of this story you liked the best?
I wonder which part of this story is the most important?
I wonder where you could be in this story?
I wonder if you’ve ever been on a Nature Hunt?
I wonder what it would be like to meet Eostre?
I wonder if you’ve ever searched for colored eggs?
I wonder if you’ve ever made a wish?
I wonder if you have ever celebrated Ostara?
I wonder what is sacred or special to you?
I wonder where the Spirit of Love and Mystery might be in this story?
I wonder which one of our Unitarian Universalist promises this story reminds you of?