THE STORY OF AN EMPTY EGG
When I discovered this story, it listed no author, so there is no one to whom I can give credit for sharing this heart-touching story about Easter. I hope its message reaches your heart as it did mine.
A little boy named Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of twelve, he still sat in second grade, six grades behind his peers. It looked like he would never learn enough to move on to the next grade. Mrs. Miller, his homeroom teacher, often became exasperated with his inability to grow mentally stronger. He’d squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light suddenly penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just proved to be a source of irritation for his teacher.
One day Mrs. Miller called his parents and asked them to come in for consultation. As Mr. and Mrs. Forrester entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It’s probably embarrassing for him to be with younger children who don’t have his learning difficulties. It just doesn’t seem fair.
Mrs. Forrester wept softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke up. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no such school nearby. Not only would it be very inconvenient for us to move, find a new home and a new job, but it would come as a terrible shock for Jeremy if we took him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”
Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it just didn’t seem right to keep him in her class. She had eighteen other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a constant distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried her bests to tolerate Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. That is, until one day, he limped up to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller!” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She still managed to stammer, “Wh–wh–why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N–n—now please take your seat.”
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them that during that time of year everything in nature came alive; the trees, flowers, butterflies, and birds were returning. She gave each of the children a large colored plastic egg. “Now listen,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that reminds you of spring and shows the beginning of new life. Do you understand?”
All of the children shouted in response, “Yes, Miss Miller!” That is, all except Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. She wondered if he even understood what she just said about Spring and new life? Did he even understand the assignment? So she thought, maybe I should call his parents and explain the project to them.
That evening, however, Doris’ kitchen sink plugged up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still needed to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.
The next morning, nineteen children came skipping to school, laughing and talking as they entered the classroom and placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it came time to open the eggs.
In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When budding plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arm saying, “That’s my egg, Miss Miller!”
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one’s mine.”
Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My Daddy helped me find it,” he beamed.
But when Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy’s she thought, and of course, he didn’t understand her instructions. If only she hadn’t forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.
Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, if that’s your egg it’s empty. He looked straight into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, said Jeremy, but I learned in Sunday school that Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” It seemed as if time froze, her brain searched for something to say. Finally, she recovered enough from her shock to ask, “Jeremy, do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. And because it was Springtime, God made Him come back to life!”
The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The coldness inside her melted completely away. Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see nineteen eggs laying on top of his casket, all of them were empty.
As adults, we do not want to be accused of thinking like a child, especially one that is particularly lacking in knowledge and decorum. But Jesus didn’t feel that way. He showed a special love for children and said that the Kingdom of Heaven was like a classroom full of little children.1 Not only that, but He said that often great wisdom would be spoken by little children.2 And after all, with God being eternal, whatever our age may be we are only infants in His sight. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Matthew 19:14
2 Matthew 21:16