Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week

It's quiet in the neighborhood today. No kids pedaling past the house, no scooter brigade en route to the elementary school. Most families have ventured off to warmer locales for spring break. But we are here. Holding down our end of the street while Doug cranks out tax returns. We are counting days, gifts, disasters, and more days - our sights set on April 15th.

The week, however, sits wide open. Lined with silver and trimmed with enormous margins, it's the perfect prescription for our new pace - our new plan to slow down. There's no reason to hurry Eliza out the door in the morning, no lessons or preschool to attend. Nothing but wonderful white space.

Photobucket

And the beauty of all this white space is that it happens to fall during my favorite week of the year.

Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday is known as the holiest week in human history. Not just because of the sacred events that happened, but because of their profound effect on every human being that has lived or will live upon the earth.

Photobucket

I love the way the larger Christian world celebrates. Every Easter, I pine a bit that, as Mormons, we don't collectively focus more on the events of Jesus' final week. But I figure, we can best remember these events in our own family. And I've found a whole lot of joy linking arms with Christians everywhere as we celebrate Christ's triumph over death.

Yesterday, the girls helped me decorate our Easter Tree. Snow was falling in big puffs outside the window and it felt appropriate to be decorating a tree of sorts.

Photobucket

My mother, while doing her annual pruning, saved some peach tree branches for us.

Photobucket

We took the pink-budded twigs home, arranged them in water, and hung eggs on the boughs. One for each member of our family.

Photobucket

Around the eggs we tied artwork from the masters, mostly Carl Bloch. Depictions of the final events that occurred during the Savior's life, after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Photobucket

It kept on snowing, and we kept on tying.

I asked the girls what they knew about each of the pictures. They offered their own thoughts, I filled in the gaps, and together we told the story.

Photobucket

C.S. Lewis calls it, "the strangest story of all." The one where Christ comes down into his own created universe, down to humanity and manhood, then comes back up again - pulling it with him. Then he asks this question,

"What are we going to make of Christ? There is no question of what we can make of him, it is entirely a question of what he intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story."

And so we accept the story. And with it, his mercy. An offering so grand we can hardly fathom the breadth of it.

Photobucket

We told the story of the donkey waiting, the passover meal, the Lord's humble washing of feet, his pain in Gethsemane and the angel sent to strengthen him. We told the story of Judas and Peter, of betrayal and denial, and the awful crucifixion.

Photobucket

Then we told the story of the magnificent resurrection.

It felt good to speak truth and spell out light. To remember that new life always comes out of the darkest places.

Wednesday we will do our Easter Walk. Friday we will eat "hot cross buns" and dye easter eggs. Saturday we will hang lanterns. And in between, we'll talk daily of what happened to the Savior, make an Easter pinata, and read our Easter stories. I'm still making my way through this book. It gets me thinking out of the ordinary, requires mulling.

Photobucket

We might even brave the zoo (which has nothing to do with Easter but everything to do with rallying for an adventure with five monkeys, two of whom can escape from the stroller now).

I am looking forward to our simple festivities, happy to talk of sacred things more than we normally do.

On a lighter note, my girls decorated a different kind of tree on Saturday.

Photobucket

They hung buckets and baskets from the limbs of our crab apple tree. Tied them up with jump ropes, wrapped bunnies in blankets, and gave their stuffed animals the ride of a lifetime!

Photobucket

Eliza tried fitting "Carrot" (her bunny) into the bucket via stroller. Hmmm....

Photobucket

They even created a dumb-waiter system for hauling snacks, flashlights, and other necessaries to the upper parts of the tree. Clever.

Photobucket

Buckets and ropes kept my girls entertained all... day... long.

I almost left everything up for the week, hoping the Easter Bunny would fill those buckets come Easter morning. But, considering Sunday's snow, and the loud, trashy look it gave our front yard, I'm glad we took the contraptions down. No doubt they'll be back up soon.

What are you doing to make this week meaningful?

Easter Blessings,

20 comments:

  1. We'll attend our maundy Thursday (last supper) and good Friday services. I hard boiled 2 dozen eggs so the boy could dye them this weekend. I love holy week too. Have a great holy week too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Cath,

    I so agree with your thoughts about this week being very spiritual, and I enjoy it every year and more and more so.

    However, I disagree with theses words:

    ****Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday is known as the holiest week in human history. Not just because of the sacred events that happened, but because of their profound effect on every human being that has lived or will live upon the earth.****

    Yes, it does have a profound effect on us Christians. But the claim that the profoundness of our believes is shared by _all_, is what bothers me in any religion.

    I think this take on the major religions, which I very much value, describes my objection best:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_the_Wise

    Does this make any sense? Hope you don't mind this.

    Enjoy this week for all it has to offer!

    So long,
    Corinna

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Cath. I love all your celebrations, commemorations. Your words on our run yesterday reinvigorated my Easter preparations-- because more than being prepared with a pretty table, a chocolate bunny and dyed eggs I want my heart to be prepared for the joy of the resurrection, the gift of Christ's atonement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Corinna, of course I don't mind your comment. I always appreciate and respect what you have to say. And how you feel. Thanks for being honest, and for the link. I can see how my words sounds as if I'm projecting my gratitude for Christ's offering onto everyone everywhere. I don't mean to speak for others who are Jewish or Muslim or non-Christian. I absolutely respect and tolerate different religions, encourage dialogue between us all, and can find good in almost any avenue of faith. But I am saying (and I am not the first to say it - Paul said it 1 Cor. 15:22, and Christ himself said it - Doctrine and Covenants 19:16 "I, God, suffered these things for all that they might not suffer if they would repent." This last reference is not biblical, but additional revelation we believe to be part of the canon of scripture).

    Christ's suffering was not just for those who believe in him, but for all men and women on the earth. That is the astounding truth of his infinite atonement. That it was for all. Of course, much of the world doesn't and won't believe this in their lifetime. But that is the question CS Lewis puts out to us, will we accept or reject Christ's story? God also gave us the gift of choice, of freedom to act, and to learn for ourselves - something I would never infringe upon. For anyone. But I do believe the truth remains, that Christ suffered for us all. Sorry, I didn't mean for this to turn preachy. Just wanted to answer your question, clarify as best I can. Have a wonderful week Corinna. Thanks for your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yup.

    Celebrating Easter through scriptural readings with the children each day from the last week of Christ's life (sounds like we're doing similar things), listening to Bach's St. Matthew Passion on Friday night, Easter hunt on Saturday, etc. etc.

    I love love love this week.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cath, you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas here. The Easter tree is just lovely. Wishing you the very best this week as you celebrate Easter with your family. Good luck with Doug's crazy schedule the next few weeks. xo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Cath, thanks for your thoughts, I always enjoy reading your words, and often enough gives me something to think about. And I am sorry I misinterpreted your words! Thanks for clearing that up!

    Here is a story for you relating to the Easter Walk (I might have written you about it before, I'm not sure): the Catholic Church has Easter Walks on Good Friday that are especially aimed at kids to explain the crucification and the concept of resurrection. In our church the kids help to carry the cross and I always find it very touching, when the kids carry it together, and always think that this is a very valuable lesson for them. When my youngest one (now 5) was three, she said: "I was Jesus, too, I helped carry the cross." I found that a very nice thought.

    So long,
    Corinna

    ReplyDelete
  8. I needed a good post like that. I love that you are honoring this week. I want to do this with my children and really for myself. I love the C.S. Lewis quote. He always puts things right. Thank you my dear friend. How has it been?? Slowing down I mean. How are the boys doing?
    Sending you love
    Kristen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slowing down has been good for so many reasons. This might just be the exact blessing our family needed - one I didn't foresee and wouldn't have chosen. But already I am seeing changes in Spence. Gordon's stutter is more pronounced, but both are improving with more attention, slower talk, and simply doing less. Thank you for asking. I'll write more after Easter. Hope you're having an excellent break at the beach!

      Delete
  9. Michelle - this sentiment is so beautiful: "I want my heart to be prepared for the joy of the resurrection, the gift of Christ's atonement." I love you.

    Elizabeth - you've had so many lovely posts lately. I'm sorry in all my slowing down I've had to refrain from commenting like I would like to. But I do want to ask you, which version of St. Matthew's Passion would you recommend? Do you have a version of your Dad playing the organ? Can you steer me in the right direction? xo

    Anne Marie - Have read and marked your email so I can spend some time responding to you. Much to say re: your experience with speech therapy and your boys. You are wonderful and true in every way. I will say more in an email. Wishing you a happy Easter week too!

    Corinna - That is indeed a sweet thought - for your daughter to consider herself helping Jesus - carrying the cross. Thank you so much for sharing. Enjoy all your special celebrations this week my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Cath,

    I love the way you celebrate Easter. Thanks for sharing it. I have two questions, why will you hang lanterns on Saturday? and where did you get the cute bunnies on your mantel? Happy Easter to you and yours!

    Kerri

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Cath,

    ****Enjoy all your special celebrations this week my friend.

    *lol* -- our special celebration this week is moving from an apartment to our new house -- so much work, but in a very good way, ;-).

    But we will take the time to go to Church on Thursday evening and to the Easter Walk on Friday afternoon.

    Take care,
    Corinna

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi there, friend.

    I commented back from your question on my blog, and gave you an invite if you wanna wanna. ;) xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love all your easter celebration ideas. I've been preparing to teach R.S. all week about the immortality of the soul, which goes so well with Easter. My favorite thought you shared was, "new life always comes out of the darkest places." That's what grief and trials bring - new life. A new normal. New faith. New understanding. New and stronger testimony that He lives. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    As for our celebrations, we watched "Finding Faith in Christ" for FHE, will dye easter eggs on Saturday, and we like to bake around here. So, we try to make bird's nest cookies and resurrection rolls.

    Happy Easter!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kerri - would you believe I found the tin bunnies at Smith's, of all placeS? And the lanterns are very simple. Mason jar lanterns that we will string with wire and ribbons and hang from our tree on Saturday evening. Our version of an Easter vigil. Traditionally, Easter Vigil services are held during the hours of darkness between sundown Saturday evening and sunrise Easter Morning. A symbol of waiting with vigilance for the resurrection.

    Corinna - I am just remembering you've been building a new home! congratulations! And wishes for smooth move, interspersed with your Easter remembrances!

    Elizabeth - thank you, thank you!

    Heather - I wish I could attend your lesson -what a beautiful topic for Easter Sunday. Someone else mentioned watching Finding Faith in Christ. I ought to scrounge that up from the depths of our DVDs. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, even trials and grief generate new life. Happy Easter Heather.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Cath, in case you don't check my blog for our convo on there again :), my dad actually told me this morning that his favorite version of the St. Matthew now is done by Herreweghe. Just thought I'd let you know so you could look for that one instead.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Bread and Wine" is the BEST book. I also love Fr. Martin Smith's "A Season for the Spirit".

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's school holidays here, and as I'm still unemployed, the boys and I are spending extra time together.

    I'm pulling out my favourite art work about Easter, and we'll talk about what Easter means.

    Thank you (again!) for sharing your life with me. Love you!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you, Cath, for these lovely ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  19. jen - adding season for the spirit to my list next year. thank you!

    Kellie - gah - still unemployed? sending you prayers sister. you're faith and diligence, and love for your boys amaze me. xoxo

    Mel - love you.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails