Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises.
At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a ray of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.
One day she called his parents and asked them to come for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs to a ‘special’ school.
“It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.”
Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.
“Miss Miller,” he said, “There is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”
Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the lawn outside the window. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.
“Here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family,” she thought.
“Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”
From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.
Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.
“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. Had he understood what she had said? The next morning, it was 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.
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.”
Then, Doris opened the third egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. 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, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.
When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”
“Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was buried there but the Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket –all of them empty.
Source: Ida Mae Kempel
in A Taste of Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
(Health Communications, Inc 2005)
There’s also Jeremy’s Egg, a 2000 film based on Ida Mae Kempel’s story
Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death
For without these, the empty tomb is empty
We Need to Linger by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia