Alleluia, He is Risen!
Oh glorious day, this one in which we celebrate the triumphant Lord, ascended into heaven to be with God and to await our hopeful reunion; a future celebration that will be an eternal continuation of the small Easter snippet we’ve experienced today!
The above image, which hangs on the wall of our dining room, has been adorned with palms. Last night, it served as one stopping point for the Easter bunny.
Speaking of whom…some say “hogwash” regarding the bunny. I say, let children explore the wonders of Easter at their own level. So long as their faith grows in relation to their age and ability to learn more complex truths, it’s all good. Both bunny and Christ’s victory over death: our home welcomes them all in their proper volumes. And while I still fervently hold on to that other image of crucifixion, the one I referenced a few days ago here, there is a time and place for all. Today, it is only proper for us to dwell on the grand victory. We’ll be back at the foot of the cross in due time.
This year, more than ever in my life as a mother, perhaps, I am aware of time and its passing. It is evidenced by the photo below. I am a mother of five, but only three children are represented in my Easter pictures today. That’s because of The Shift. As oldest son, 13, and oldest daughter, 11.5, head into another era of their lives, waving goodbye to childhood as they do, I sense that there are really only three children left in our family. Over the past month, I have seen the occasional, quiet grieving of my youngest daughter, who is losing her older-sister companion to this Shift. In response, she’s happily gravitating toward her little brothers, who seem to enjoy and even crave the guidance she provides. I feel so grateful for the little ones, especially now that the older ones are floating away from us, even if only in their minds and hearts. I know it’s very normal and even necessary, but again, seeing the little ones react through their excited anticipation of Easter — the creative coloring of eggs, the eagerness over beginning the egg hunt, the drinking of catawba in wine glasses at Easter dinner — it’s all been a particular delight against the backdrop of the unenthusiastic energy of their pre-teen and teen siblings. It’s also made me appreciate our larger family. I can’t imagine if we’d stopped at two, like so much of the world had recommended, even strongly urged, once we’d “acquired” our “perfect family” of one boy and one girl. Certainly, we would have been blessed if we’d stopped at two, but I am so glad our hearts remained open to more. The presence of the young ones has been a source of life in these days of uncertainty. They are the ones who seem the most able to be a balancing force in our lives. Their innocence and vibrancy keeps hope fresh.
And speaking of fresh hope, I really did love Easter this year — not the bunny stuff, but the more meaty aspects of it. (And I don’t mean the ham, either, though that was very nice.) Though I am not always able to attend the Easter Vigil, last night at 9 p.m, I was drawn to church with the rest of the late-night worshippers, the “Crockpot crowd” as our priest named us (hinting at the longer version of Mass of which we would be part, as opposed to the Sunday morning “microwave” version). It is a beautiful ceremony full of holy symbolism. We begin in the dark with unlit candles, and as the soon-to-be Catholics process into the church with the priests and servers and Easter candle, the light of that one big candle begins to spread until all is bright.
This is what I imagine the Christian truly is at his or her best: a bright light that, at its most illuminating, can even be seen from heaven. Even before reading The Shack, which hinted at an ethereal illumination of God’s people, I have sensed that we truly do radiate light; a light with a brightness in direct proportion to our closeness to God.
Among the twenty people who entered the Church last night was a friend. The vigil was even more poignant to me because of the night’s significance to her. It meant a late night, but it was worth it. When I got home at 12:45, I still had Easter preparations to do, including some which will remain unmentioned, along with gutting baked potatoes in preparation for today’s ham and twice-baked-potatoes meal.
I was up just a few hours after I went to bed to bring my daughter to church to rehearse with the rest of the Easter children’s choir. On the way there, she told me about a time a few weeks back that her teacher uttered the word “Alleluia” during class as part of instruction, and the kids all gasped. As Catholics, it is a practice during Lent to keep the Alleluia’s out of our vocabulary. Why? Well, as I said a couple days ago, we cannot fully appreciate the sun without the darkness that comes before. I had to explain that, under the circumstances, it was just fine for her teacher to have said “that word.”
With Lent and Holy Week now in our wake, finally, we can say it without question, loud and strong:
“Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia!”
(Now, doesn’t that sound especially wonderful right now?)