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Celebrating Easter At Sunrise!

February 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 


We developed a family tradition, back when our children first started school, of traveling when they were out of school for their Easter break. We are members of the Roman Catholic faith, and attend St. Francis of Assisi Parish when we are home in Manitowoc, WI. In fact, our children  attended the Catholic schools associated with our parish. However, we often had difficulty locating a Catholic church in many of the cities and towns to which we traveled. Feeling it was more important to celebrate, then to be a stickler for one form of religion or church, we developed the habit of locating a nearby church and attending its services on Easter morning.

One Easter Sunday morning while searching for a service in a small, rustic rocky mountain town, we happened upon a sunrise service taking place on the banks of a small creek. Complete with a large bonfire to warm us and donuts to nourish us, this was, hands-down, our children’s favorite Easter service. It was quite a momentous occasion, watching the sun rise over the creek, accompanied by the large bonfire, singing songs that were familiar, yet not. It truly gave us a sense of the miraculous. What better way to celebrate Easter morn?

From that time on, we made it a practice whenever we were travelling over Easter to seek out an outdoor sunrise service. While we have never again encountered a creekside bonfire service serving donuts, we have seldom been disappointed. We have been treated to some of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful services at a wide variety of locations around our beautiful country. In addition, our children have come to appreciate the similarities between our church services and beliefs, and those of others, rather than merely the differences and have become more accepting of people who practice differently that we, something I believe can only enhance their lives.

One of the more spectacular services occurred up on a mountain in Big Sky Montana. Vacationing there, we rose at the crack of dawn one March Easter morning, much to the dismay of the children who had friends vacationing in Mexico, and dressed in warm winter clothes only to ride the ski lift up to the top of the peak where the service would take place. The memory of arriving atop the mountain in the dark, waiting and watching the sun rise over the peak still brings tears to my eyes. What an incredible experience!

Another memorable service occurred near Branson, MO at a small Baptist church welcoming visiting tourists. It was a beautiful spring morning and attendees sat on the ground during the service and communion was passed on silver trays. I did not have a chance to warn the children not to take any as we were not members of that faith but no harm came of it and it was yet another positive experience.

Over the years we have attended perhaps a dozen such services, most positive and memorable. As they were religious services, I did not take photos during the service. However, in this post I have included several shots that I believe capture the mood created by some of these spectacular services. These experiences have  given us the opportunity to learn and appreciate many different religious traditions and practices…and to learn that they are all more similar than different.

Learn more about camping by reading Woodall’s  camping articles.


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