While there is always a slight rumbling of mutiny in our house, particularly as we push through our second month of “stay at home” orders, I recognize how very blessed we are – how the circumstances could be so much worse.
We have food. Grocery stores are open and we have an awesome supply chain in the U.S. Hospitals are not overrun, we are healthy, and so are our families and friends. We are digitally connected and the kids can still learn and talk with friends. We have a house and a yard to play in. We can get out and exercise, hit the trails, or safely walk through our suburban streets.
All the canceling of recitals, lessons, meets, tournaments, competitions, and games, has actually allowed us the very thing I longed for – a slowing down of life. It’s given us time with each other, eight-plus hours of sleep a night, and the opportunity to strengthen our family relationships.
While this is hard, and I feel a bit morose as I consider the slow phases of integration we will have to work through, and let’s not even talk about the frustration of battling through school with Spence and Gordy (mercy! I ain’t goin’ make it!) . . . when this is over, I don’t want to jump back into that same break-neck speed of exhaustion that existed before in our over-programmed world! But my fear is that it will be impossible to find Switzerland – ya know, that neutral ground? Middle ground? Because in the past there seemed to be zero options in between “all” or “nothing.”
What are you feeling? Are you itching to return to your life before? Or does part of you want to come back ready to manage things differently?
This year’s open calendar and lack of competing events, allowed for a very lovely and slow Holy Week for us.
Monday and Tuesday we did school work and tried to get on top of things. But Wednesday we ventured out into the welcome sunshine. We drove up to the Utah State Capitol to see the cherry blossoms. They reminds me of the tidal basin in DC. Always breathtaking.
Then we drove downtown to see the progress on the Salt Lake Temple Renovation. Usually, during Holy Week, we will attend a session at the temple and this would have been the first year we could have taken all three girls with us. But all LDS temples around the world are temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
You can barely see the foundation here, but workers are strengthening the footings so this historic building can withstand a large earthquake. Additionally, they are re-vamping the grounds and entrance to Temple Square, and restoring the interior of the temple to its original pioneer glory. It’s a huge undertaking – all of it. The project will last four years.
The kids loved seeing that Angel Moroni still hasn’t regained his trumpet – one of the repercussions of the earthquake in March.
We didn’t think the grounds surrounding the temple would be open. But they were wide open on the west side and the plaza size by the Church Office Building. The flowers were gorgeous!
Everyone else must also be under the impression that this place is closed, because we were the ONLY ones there! It was so quiet and peaceful. We could have stayed a long time.
They have a wonderful display of old black and white photos of the construction of the temple.
The squirrels were starved for both food and attention. ☺️
We did our Easter Walk earlier in the day. At my Mom’s house. She always gave the kids free rein when it came to flower-picking.
I especially loved seeing her little purple pansies in bloom. Sometimes she would sing that primary song and happily sway back and forth as she looked out the kitchen window.
“Little purpose pansies, touched with yellow gold. Growing in one corner of the garden old; We are very tiny but must try, try, try. Just one spot to gladden, you and I.”
It was one of her favorites.
Thursday we did our Passover Meal. This was the first time, in a very long time, that Doug was able to join us (tax deadline deferred this year).
Obviously, the Passover meal is a Jewish tradition – a remembrance of the Children of Israel being delivered out of slavery and bondage in Egypt. But it is a story we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, believe as well. It is informative to our belief in a Messiah who delivers us from spiritual bondage. We believe Jesus, during his last week of life, fulfilled the role of Passover Lamb. (Watch this video for more understanding on Jesus as the Passover Lamb.)
Everyone loved the meal. It went down as their favorite part of the week. The mother covers her head and lights the candles.
The Father blesses the meal. And Gordon, as youngest child, asked the questions.
We substituted chicken for lamb. But maybe we’ll try some lamb next year. The kids liked all the ceremony and ritual, and they loved learning about the symbolism of the foods.
Before everyone left the table, we read parts from the Hallel (Psalm 115-118) and sang a hymn together. It was our favorite evening of Holy Week.
When I studied in Israel, Rabbi Rosen, who was one of our professors, introduced us to the Passover meal. I felt so blessed to be there during the months of Ramadan, Lent, and eventually the celebrations of Passover and Easter. We ate with him and his family and he taught us about the symbolism of the meal. It was a beautiful experience. I also loved sharing Shabbat meals with him and watching as he gave each of his daughters a father’s blessing at the end of the meal. Such a tender tradition.
There is so much to be admired in different faith practices. Every religion has something to teach us. If you are interested, here is the script we followed (loosely).
Eliza had fun getting fancy with her eggs. The rest of pretty much gave up on pretty and looked forward to eating them.
On Good Friday we walked around the Garden Park Ward in Salt Lake City and sat on the grounds to read the scriptures that pertained to the crucifixion. Good Friday was a day of world-wide fasting for our church. I know other faiths also joined us in prayer and going without food or something else as a demonstration of sacrifice and faith. We prayed that the pandemic would be slowed, that our health care workers and families would be protected, that the economy would be able to bounce back and find resiliency. We prayed for small business owners, and for a return to normalcy as soon as possible.
I believe those prayers are still at work and that God heard them. I know He is mindful of every effort to acknowledge Him and reach for Him. It was hard for my kids to fast all day. Especially the boys. Gordon had to bail at lunch, but the rest of the kids made it!
Saturday Eliza crafted our Resurrection Tomb. Each year, the kids find some rocks and flowers and build a small tomb to remind them of the tomb Jesus was laid in. Then Sunday morning, they roll the small stone away.
Saturday evening, we lit our lanterns in anxious waiting for the Light of the World to rise. This year, we added a few extra ones for the small wall that borders our street.
Sunday morning we had our Easter service at home. I was quite emotional – taking the emblems of the sacrament at home, and pondering its meaning. The best part about home church for me has been watching our kids prepare and deliver short talks, or share their testimonies about what they think and believe. I think it literally makes my heart bigger – at least that’s how I feel when they get up in front of the family and speak what’s on their minds and in their heart.
It’s such a great opportunity for growth for these kids.
The first time Gordon (age 10) shared his testimony with us, he touched on just one thing we had been talking about in our family scripture study. He said he knew that Jesus was the master of the vineyard and that no matter what we did, He would never cast us away, never give up on us. (We had been studying Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon.) Suddenly he stopped talking and got super emotional. He quickly closed his testimony and sat down.
After our meeting, I sat with him on the couch and asked him what he had been feeling. He said, “I felt like all three members of the Godhead were standing around me.” I hugged him close and told him how special it was that he felt that. I’ve never heard of anyone feeling that sensation. It was such a unique way to describe his experience. That was probably precisely what had happened. Maybe not in literality, but at the least in spirit. Gordon had been made aware of each singular and separate entity of the Godhead – the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I told him they were indeed around and part of his life. I explained that they were probably pleased with his small but growing understanding of salvation and the way God puts forth every effort to rescue us – that He will never ever give up on us.
We had very simple easter baskets, and the kids didn’t seem to mind. I liked it that way.
Now an Announcement:
I’m excited to tell you I’ve been working on a new PDF Guide to Holy Week. It has more detail, more focus on what we can ponder and learn from the Easter story, as well as some images, and updated ideas for families. I’ll have it ready to go next year, so be sure to check the blog early for new Holy Week helps and ideas.
As we closed our family Sacrament meeting on Easter, we sang this hymn. The lyrics were written by Kara’s grandfather and our admired friend, Marion D. Hanks.
That Easter morn, a grave that burst, proclaimed to man that “Last and First” had ris’n again and conquered pain.
This morn renews for us that day, when Jesus cast the bonds away, took living breath and conquered death.
Thus we in gratitude recall, and give our love and pledge our all, shed grateful tear and conquer fear.
Hope your Easter at Home was not only more memorable, but more meaningful.
Love to all of you.