Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Ponderings

It is Easter Monday. He is risen! Alleluia!

I am enjoying a very restful day and reviewing the events and stirrings of the Triduum, of Lent, of life in general.

So, with no particular order in mind, some random ponderings:

There are so many reasons why I don't like "planning" Lenten penances. Some of these have to do with why I don't really like to plan anything: counter-productivity and inevitable lack of follow through. But also, I simply know that I don't ever have a grasp of what I really need, what I really lack. I always think if I did know that, then I wouldn't lack it, right? It seems to me that a far more effective way for me is simply to come to the Lord daily, giving Him full permission to instruct me in the way I should go. It might take me awhile to get clued in, but making a practice of a real daily offering over these last few years has helped.

And the fun thing about this approach is the joy of discovery. Something I felt frequently throughout this Lent was my attention directed toward my housework. My relationship with housework is perhaps different than some. I don't really have an antipathy towards it, but I do sometimes simply ignore it for other things. The same could be said for small interactions with my children, the kind I could easily overlook as almost meaningless. What I discovered somewhere during the Triduum was this overwhelming sense (that I'm sure has been translated into a great children's story somewhere) that the small things I could easily ignore or do without love are in fact the exact moments in which priceless treasures, graces, are garnered. It hit me like a ton of bricks: this is given to me for my holiness, for the salvation of the world!

Good Friday sure felt penitential. Really, this whole Triduum was one I experienced with my emotions in a way that was like a gift of love to me. Holy Thursday night I sat in the church after the Mass and contemplated how I long to be close to Jesus, not with a sense of frustration that I might have felt at other times in my life because of a perceived lack of closeness, but more as an awareness of my desire. Jesus doesn't thwart me. It's just that I don't always pick up on how He actually fulfills my desire to be close to Him. It's awareness of His closeness to me that makes the difference.

And yes, Good Friday felt penitential. I awoke to discover more computer problems that destroyed my email capacities for about the sixth time since December. I was faced with many things to do, and I knew that the day would be a challenge for my children, which would in turn challenge me. And on top of it, I got one of those pesky ideas stuck in my mind, an offer of something that I felt urged, compelled to make to a friend. I call it a pesky idea because making these kinds of offers leave me feeling very vulnerable and frankly really stupid. But it was something I couldn't not do. And yes, my children struggled, my patience was stretched, I felt my powerlessness, and I made my brave offer which was politely refused. My obedience to my conscience felt completely pointless.

I was so excited for the Easter Vigil, though! I spent all day cleaning the house, which amazed me, because I accomplished so much, and with so much joy. I got to cantor my favorite Psalm ("Let us sing to the Lord, He has covered Himself in glory") and nailed it. And I don't only mean I sang it the way I wanted to be able to (which is true) but simply the chance to proclaim that Scripture with my whole heart was a great blessing. My parish had 13 baptisms. And that seemingly pointless obedience revealed an opening to a completely unanticipated "conversation" that is all potential.

Another thing hit me during the Easter Vigil. Catholic liturgy is full of symbols, but they really are not about "the community finding meaning in ritual behavior" and suchlike as a sociological view of religion will often say. Symbols point tangibly to unseen spiritual realities that are actually far more what makes the world go around than the things we see. This struck me again as we did the renewal of baptismal vows Saturday night. This is our triumph over Satan, exercised in real time. The trick for us is to enter into the liturgy as into the deepest reality, not as if we are children repeating the sounds of words we don't comprehend.

I thoroughly enjoyed the strangest thing after the Vigil: I went to a bar to meet up with some friends from choir (and my librarian friend) to hear their kids' band play. Not the kind of thing this recovering holier-than-thou type would normally enjoy, but it felt entirely appropriate to the celebration of new life.

And for the first time ever, I believe, I made a served a holiday dinner to family and guests and had everything done at the same time and on time. No last minute stressing out. I spent the morning cooking and singing my little heart out along with John Michael Talbot. This is the kind of contemplation in action I love!

I'm so glad there are 50 days in the Easter season. We've only just begun... to live!

Thanks be to God, Alleluia!

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