Tag Archiv: Easter

Post Easter week snow and the troubador

photo compliments of morguefile.com

photo compliments of morguefile.com

 

Good Friday was warmish. We saw green bits in the brown of the grass and smiled. Easter was cold but the afternoon warm enough for a walk through wet paths and fields. Easter Monday it snowed. My husband did dinner dishes yelling every time he forgot and raised his head that he refused to look outside the window. On the way to school, Boy two remarked how strange it was, here it was one of the most beautiful snowfalls of the year and we weren’t happy about it.

It’s true. The trees were lightly covered in just the right amount of snow. No plows had gone through throwing brown sand around the edges. The roads had fixed themselves. Their black winding path went through a world of unbroken white. Fields and branches perfectly baptized, a grey blue sky was especially free to shine as the only real colour in town.

My son has this same problem right now. I have always wanted him to love music. To share this part of joy together. He loves music now more than I’d dared to hope. Except he doesn’t play what I think he should. He plays loud pieces when it should be quiet. He practices endless chord sequences instead of scales. He teaches himself songs from musicals or rehearses pieces from two years prior when I know he should be preparing for an upcoming evaluation.

If anyone had shown me a picture of the snow on Tuesday morning, I would have thought it impossible for my response to include anything other than rejoicing and gratitude. Likewise if anyone had told me four years ago listening to my son’s great boredom and disinterest in music, that he would be sticking his trombone out the window to serenade whatever country neighbours might be driving by, that he would be unable to stop singing or humming as he went about the business of the day, or that he would be unable to pass the piano without setting his hands down to play a few bars, I would have bet the farm that the tidings would bring nothing but joy.

In both things I have been wrong. I want to say to son and God – timing is everything. And if it is not everything, it is at least something. But the hoped for vision is the grander one.

We prayed for snow leading up to Christmas. We don’t want it anymore. Yet there is no denying it’s perfection. Shimmering and glinting in the morning light. I spit out my no thank you, and it stands unheeding. Behold all things are new. Come, dance. The music that you love is playing again.

I made my peace with the snow (which was good because it snowed like five times last week before it finally left). Perhaps there will be grace for the chord loving, composer dreaming, discipline eschewing troubadour as well.

Becoming Lazarus

La résurrection de Lazare (English titles: "The Resurrection of Lazarus" or "The Raising of Lazarus") by Leon Bonnat, 1857.

La résurrection de Lazare (English titles: “The Resurrection of Lazarus” or “The Raising of Lazarus”) by Leon Bonnat, 1857.

Sometimes when things are not good or safe, you separate yourself into pieces. In hospitals and battlefields, this time honored tradition is known as triage. There are not enough resources to save everyone, so you save those most likely to live. Losses are unfortunate but inevitable.

Growing up and into my twenties, the survival of some of me came at the cost of the rest of me. This has been a source of grief. Not to mention a long and bitter war within myself. (The parts of me scheduled for early demise were not that cooperative with the parts of me giving the orders.) I wasn’t happy about the executions, but then again I didn’t exactly see other options. The ferocity with which some parts tried to live troubled me. I worried that if they did not die, they would spread through my bones like cancer, and then there would be none of me.

I got them before they got me – those other parts of me. But the death bothered me. It might have been the only way I knew to survive, but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Through the years against my wishes and without planning to, I would find myself like Mary and Martha weeping inconsolable at the tomb.

Engulfed in sorrow, I mourned the loss. But I did not dream of resurrection. In matters of life and death there is no going back. I did not think of Lazarus. Dead is dead. What’s done is done. These are true things which even a child can verify.

At least they were true until yesterday. On a Tuesday after Easter, some irrevocably done things were undone. The dead were invited to live. Love spoke and the parts of me long wrapped in grave clothes and buried were called forth.

I believe in the necessity of risk. I believe in betting on the gamble of love. But sometimes you don’t do anything. You aren’t even hoping terribly hard (on account of being dead and all). From the depths you begin to hear a voice. This is strange because dead people aren’t known for their listening skills, but the sound of your name becomes unmistakable.

It is shocking. So much so that you don’t do anything about it for a very long time. Months. Years. Dead people don’t lie around anticipating change or feeling urgency. (It never crosses your mind to remember that the dead lie waiting to be called forth.) The voice is insistent, beguiling. It dances invisible in the air around your corpse until it seeps into you. Until it is moving through you like blood from the determined heart of a lover. One moment you are resigned to death; the next you cannot lie there another minute agreeing to accept it as a permanent condition.

You rise up not knowing what waits. You find it a surprisingly long walk from where you were lying to the entrance of the tomb. You walk blind, shaking and stumbling because you aren’t dead anymore but you aren’t used to being alive either.

You look, sound, and act like you came from far away because you did. You don’t know for sure how to take off all the chic death wrap but you’re looking forward to it. How much help you’ll need or what you can manage alone you’re not sure. But you don’t care. He’s there. It’s an Easter story. It’s not a metaphor, it’s a resurrection.

Whatever the word on the street, death is not the last act. And resurrection isn’t earned. Resurrection is offered, with it’s power hidden behind such tenderness that it takes your breath away. I know because yesterday, this was me.

Our little Italians

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Giorgi (officially Pier Giorgio) roughly pronounced like Georgy but with a softer G, like Shzorgy. We’re making up the pronunciation part as we go, but we like it.

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Filippo (officially Filippo Neri)  Pronounced Fill eee poe with the accent on eee  (I think I should get a job with a dictionary pronunciation guide)

 

These two little lads were the Easter surprise, which couldn’t arrive until after Easter but are here now! We named them after two men whose individual stories we loved, both of whom happen to be saints and both of whom happen to be Italian. This was the Catholic heroes naming go round. Someday we’ll get ourselves a little John Wesley or an Amy Carmichael. :)  Then again, a writing theme awaits some day. I think I could use a C.S. Lewis and a George MacDonald around here.

An Easter story

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“Extra family is coming for Easter brunch,” I announced.

“That’s great!” said Girl one. “I’ve been planning an art, fun and games day as a special surprise for Easter. I was hoping there would be more people.”

“Wow,” I said. I changed the subject.

“You guys will like your Easter surprise,” I said another day.

“You’re going to like my surprise too,” said Girl one. “Want to see the tickets I made?”

“Sure.” Sigh. Did I have to pretend something which involved art and standing up, during time I reigned over (includes all holidays), was fun?

“Art fun and games day!  money gos to poor countries,” they said.

Not for spelling lessons? I thought.

“Tickets are five cents. I’m selling art after. I’m raising money.”

“Sounds nice. But it’s ok not to raise money on Easter. You can just have fun,” I said.

“I know I don’t have, I want to. I counted and I can raise $1.30 for poor countries.”

Easter came. Brunch was eaten. Girl one gave us our tickets and announced our teams. She was either oblivious to my reticence or simply confident in her ability to overcome it. She directed my team to the craft station, which Boy two was running for her. She ran the games station. She would tell us when to switch.

At the craft station, we were given twigs, tiny dried leaves, and cedar leaves. We were shown a model that used these elements to make a mock fire with a cooking pole above it and fake meat roasting from the pole. We were to follow the example and make our own. There would be a prize.

The craft took a few minutes at best, but honestly, it was fun. Their ingenuity in creating a craft from nothing delighted me. Building a fire, and adding flames and meat was hardly stressful.

At the game station, a large lid from a plastic tub had been inverted. At each corner of the improvised game board, a player was given half of a plastic egg. Each player in turn, flicked their plastic egg at another player’s egg. If they knocked it into the hollow ring around the lid, that person was out. The last egg standing won. Girl one encouraged those who got out and complimented those who survived. It was simple and it worked. It was fun.

I thought about it a lot afterwards. Why had I been so sure she couldn’t do it? She promised me everyone would like it. Why didn’t I believe her? What if it’s not just her? What if generosity of heart means believing that all kinds of people can do things I don’t expect? Should the benefit of the doubt be free?

An Easter story because love didn’t need my belief to pursue me with its gift. An Easter story because for a moment love cracked me open, slipped past what I thought I knew, and whispered in my ear.

“Keep the door open, there’s more where that came from.”

Again and again, hope

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I find mercy in the rhythms of everyday life. My heart is heavy with news of a Dutch priest and psychotherapist, who chose to stay in danger and solidarity with the people of Syria whom he has been serving for decades, killed three days short of his 76th birthday. That was ten days ago. This week, a bombing at a Catholic school in Damascus, Syria, killed a nine year old and injured 45. My heart worries and aches for the people of Ukraine. Rwanda is observing remembrance, of the awful genocide twenty years ago, and remarkable steps toward healing and reconciliation since. Holy week marches on.

 

Girl two has become fascinated with St. Rose of Lima. She knows little about her, the name, “Rose,” is the focus of adoration.

“What’s Lima?” she wanted to know.

I told her it was a city in Peru, the same place a close friend of ours is from.

Girl two’s eyes lit up. “Does that mean,” she said breathless, “that St. Rose had brown skin too?”

“I think it does. Does that make you happy?” I ask.

“Yes,” said Girl two. “Brown skin is so beautiful. And it sparkles. Especially in the sun. You have to see it in the sun. I love the sparkles so much.”

Fear despises difference. Love sees the sparkles.

 

Spring has sprung the coils in the children’s brains. Boy two has been on a rampage of neglected duties. A few days ago he came to me with great sincerity and measured tone.

“I have a question,” he said. “I have brushed the horse and fed the chickens. I’ve collected the eggs and put away my school things. I’ve emptied the ash and practiced my piano. Is there anything else I need to do, or I have I done enough to be iddal now.” (think “little,” with no “l”)

I blink while my brain works to solve the puzzle of  “iddal.”

“Is it possible that you read the word, ‘I. D. L. E.’ in a book and you are trying to pronounce it?” I ask. “Because  you say the word with a long I. Idle.”

“Iddal. Idle. Whatever.  So have I done to be idle now?”

 

Mother Teresa, who surely saw more than the average share of the world’s pain, said that “love begins at home.” We are all of us insufficient to alleviate the needs of so vast a world. It is a crisis of immensity with a place to start. The radical promise of Easter.

In barren fields, things unexpected grow. The world disintegrates and love is made new again. Hope, peace, joy, rise rediscovered, and renewed.

 

I will be taking a few days off from the blog, back on Tuesday, next week. In eager expectation and gratitude, may we walk toward the hope that is Easter. And may we be iddal long enough to hear the ballads of miracle and mystery that bid us also to rise up.

In the middle of everything

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Often after dinner, one of the girls will want to know what I am doing. Are you busy now? Do you have jobs to do? they ask.

What do you need? I’ll say cleaning up the counters. Do you have something you want to do together?

A lot of times, the answer is the same. I don’t need anything, I just want to be with you.

My children have this in common. Boy one hovers, chattering incessantly. When doing homework he wants to be two feet from wherever everyone else is. He thinks of questions to ask at night, just to have an excuse to hang around where we are. Boy two likes to read nearby in case I start reading something out loud to the girls. He swears he can listen to me read one book and read his own book at the same time. I have my doubts, but I don’t think it’s the stories that he cares about. The girls are young enough to be straightforward about it. They don’t care about the doing, they want us to be together.

I keep coming back to this idea. I just want to be with you. Girl two’s voice will echo in my head for a little while and then I start to hear the way Girl one says it.

My knickers are in horrible knots right now from trying to get everything right. Coming up to Easter, the stones in my head are rolling around trying to sort it all out. I wonder if the whole thing: baby in the manger through to dying man on a cross, is the long version of, I just want to be with you.

I think about it and my mind starts drifting. I see a picture of myself in a department store (shopping for me  =  traumatic exercise). I have been trying on clothes, only to discover that I’ve wet myself somehow. This cannot be happening, I am many things, but I am not yet incontinent. At least I wasn’t. There is no explanation really, just a puddle on the floor around my soggy shoes. I look around desperate for what I am to do, how I am to clean it up, and then what.  I am wondering if people will smell it before I can fix it. And then there He is, long hair, white robe Bible clothes and all. Standing in the middle of Sears, in the middle of Holy Week, in the middle of the pictures in my head, smiling at me.

I don’t know what to do.

It’s not Easter yet, I say.

He doesn’t speak, but I know what he’s saying.

I just want to be with you.

 

There is nothing to do. Nothing to worry about doing.

Me too, I whisper.