The name of the latest essay is "Easter at Last," but it isn't Easter yet. In fact, tomorrow (as I type this) is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, the great annual trek through Christ's return to Jerusalem, his betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection. It's a roller coaster ride, and the focus for most of the week is on his betrayal and death. By the time you get to Easter, if you do it all, every service of the week, you're pretty exhausted, quite frankly, or so it has been for me as a choir member.
This winter has been a long lesson in not doing anything, and I'm not "doing" Holy Week this year - not all of it, anyway. Although as I say that I realize that each day I'm liable to think, "Well, I'll go to tonight's service." And maybe I will. I'm just not going to feel obligated to drag my sorry butt to church regardless of all circumstances.
My friends Becky and Tara wanted to take me to England this May to celebrate my sixtieth birthday, but at this point I feel sure I'm not going. I don't have the stamina to do all the walking, shopping, and "doing" that would require, and I see no sense in spending a lot of money to go to England and then be too tired to leave the B&B. What's the point?
And Rick and I were talking today, and I remembered that I've always thought I'd go to Europe with him, to visit Kaiserslautern in Germany and Salzburg in Austria and Rome in Italy, all places where he lived or visited when his dad was in the Army 40 and 50 years ago. Rick says he'd like to sail across the Atlantic one more time (standard travel arrangements for military dependents back in the day). So I'm going to look up what sort of steamers might take passengers to Europe and how much that costs. And I will tell Rick he can't break into the lifeboats and eat the emergency rations, like he did when he was a kid. A lot of that stuff, he says, dated from World War II, and had lost some of its zing, but he and his buddies were kids and ate it anyway.
I'm not terribly proud of this essay - it was past deadline and I needed to write something, to be honest, and this is it. Sorry. But for what it's worth, here it is. All the usual blessings & love to you.
Easter at Last
In the Christian Church, Lent is a time of preparation for the resurrection of Christ. The celebration of that resurrection is called Easter, which was named after Eostre, or Eastre, the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe, according to The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE) a Christian scholar, in his book De Ratione Temporum. “Eastre” was also the ancient word for spring.
We observe Easter in the spring, when all of nature is beginning to throw her annual bash of blooming, pollinating, fruiting, mating, birthing, and bringing the young to maturity. There will be time enough to sleep in the fall. Right now it’s all life, all the time, thrusting and grunting like characters in a romance novel.
It is a time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere, so apologies to my readers in Oz where autumn is closing in fast) when you can’t miss the metaphor of life reborn out of death. Everything that is dull and brown and looks dead becomes lively and green and in some cases downright aggressive.
I’ve been out in the garden a bit the last few weeks, whacking back the brown stalks left over from last year’s abundance. I’m in a new house which I know has a delightful garden, and we moved in after last summer’s blooms had gone so this year is a time of discovery and surprise.
The heather and primroses by the sidewalk welcome us when we come home. Today I saw three daffodils and one grape hyacinth in bloom, and the big hyacinths are coloring up fast. I’m finding roses I didn’t know were there.
I thank Reva Sparkes, the owner of the house, for planting this wonderful garden, and her gardener, Shirley Burton, for tending it. There are bulbs coming up, and wallflowers, bugleweed, rose of Sharon, columbine, daisies, rhodies, lavender, and a lot of plants of which I do not know the names. Shrubs and trees are covered with buds that are about to burst. It’s going to be a riot around here in a few weeks. Reva says that when the lilies in the pots on the back deck bloom, I’m not going to believe the beauty.
I’m not much of a gardener myself, though not from lack of loving gardens. I’ve always enjoyed gardening in the abstract: reading about it, thinking about it, buying seeds, and dreaming of displays that look like the photos. But gardening, like housework, is something I do in a sporadic fashion. Usually my mind is on something other than the inside or outside chores. I was one of those kids in school of whom teachers wrote on the report card, “Daydreams a lot.”
I’m grateful to still be here.
I’m grateful for all the good in people’s hearts that shows up when you most need it.
I’m grateful that the stone that sealed the tomb was rolled aside, showing us that our perception that death is permanent is an illusion: look, here is life again.
I’m grateful for this beautiful garden to which I’ve come.
I’m grateful for my own returning health after a long winter of not being able to do much (mononucleosis; thanks for asking. And no, I did not have any fun getting it).
I’m grateful for my good heart, and for your good heart. This beautiful world can be mean and cruel, but we are here to walk through it together.
It’s Spring. Here is life again, my friends, here is Easter at last. Now let’s get out there and live.